Ash Raine was one of the team that helped set up our Inverness store when it first opened in July 2012. Now a section leader on Home Shopping, he still loves the chance to get out on the road among some of the most spectacular Scottish scenery...
I'm lucky to work in one of the most beautiful areas of the country in a place where people come on holiday.
As a team we cover from Dingwall, north of Inverness, out to Cromarty on the Black Isle then as far south as Glencoe and then as far west as Broadford on the Isle of Skye. The furthest south we deliver is approximately 90 miles from the store and about another 90 miles west to Broadford. As you can imagine, there are miles of spectacular Scottish scenery our drivers pass through every day.
As one of the section leaders I'm often in the store, but I also get the opportunity to get out delivering too. It's mainly on local runs, however more recently I've covered a number of further afield runs, taking me to Glencoe for example. I like delivering round Loch Ness – mainly because of the scenery.
I've been quite keen on photography as a hobby since I was a teenager and, with my iPhone to hand, I'm able to stop and get some stunning photos, often straight from the roadside. I enjoy the opportunity to cover runs to the Isle of Skye and Fort William, especially during the summer months.
Recently I was delivering down in Glencoe and one of my deliveries included a large order for a group of about 24 people staying at the youth hostel in the mountains for the weekend.
We have delivered to a couple of campsites, and often deliver to a park of local lodges – both to the reception and a number of visitors who are up staying in one of the lodges just north of Fort Augustus at Whitebridge.
I've worked for Asda for nearly 12 years, starting out in the Elgin store, about an hour east of Inverness, while at college studying for my Business and Management degree. In May 2012 I had the opportunity to come through to Inverness and help set up the new store which opened in July 2012.
As well as helping to recruit, train and lead a team of colleagues I was also a driver buster within the Inverness store which gave me the opportunity to explore the Highlands more, often coming across areas I didn't even know existed.
A lot of people are attracted to Loch Ness and the sights around the loch – there is a Loch Ness Monster visitor centre at Drumnadrochit and numerous boat trips up and down the loch, and many people stop at Fort Augustus to take in the views and watch the boats come up the canal into the loch. Further north there is a route named the North Coast 500 – 500 miles round the north coast of Scotland which has attracted a number of people to the area, although most of this is beyond our catchment area. Loch Morlich and the Cairngorms, just outside of Aviemore is also another popular tourist location, just about 30-40 minutes south of Inverness.
Getting an Asda delivery to a holiday location is ideal, as it saves having to pack food to take with you if you are staying in a self-catering lodge for example. Often they are remote so access to supermarkets is limited. We deliver to a number of B&Bs and guest houses who cater for tourists too.
Of course most of our deliveries are to people who live in the area and who may be several miles away from their nearest supermarkets. Within the first year of the store opening, a Facebook campaign was set up by some of the people who lived on the Isle of Skye and subsequently we ended up delivering there, and still do to a regular customer base. Sometimes customers from further north on the island, which is outside our catchment area, meet us to get their shopping!
The weather can sometimes cause issues for us but most of the time our drivers have been able to get deliveries to the customer or meet them somewhere, particular in times of snow. We have had drivers who have been delayed by road accidents, sometimes where significant detours need to be taken to get past the accident scene due to the location, or back up the other side of Loch Ness to get back to the store. We often have to contend with large volumes of tourist traffic, swing bridges as well as rural sheep, cows and deer in some areas!