The highland games season is well underway, and I have been waiting patiently for my first chance to experience this quintessentially Scottish pastime first hand. I couldn’t have chosen better than the Inveraray Highland Games, with the brooding Inveraray Castle as their magnificent backdrop.
It was a fantastic day out. There were the traditional events I had expected to see – bagpiping contests, caber tossing, highland dancing and Scots hammer throwing – plus quite a few I hadn’t, for example the hop step & jump and cycling races (on grass!).
The most exciting cycle event was called ‘De’il Tak the Hindmost’, where the last placed rider dropped out at the end of the each lap, leaving just two to race it out at the finish. I was also particularly intrigued by the Scottish backhold style wrestling, which reminded me quite a lot of sumo – but thankfully with less flesh and more kilt!
As well as the goings-on on track and field, there was also a great selection of food and drink stalls showcasing some of Argyll’s best produce – venison burgers, Loch Fyne oysters and of course our favourite Fyne Ales.
If you ignore the car parks and kiddies’ funfair rides, you could imagine seeing these same scenes at Scottish highland games going back hundreds of years, pretty much unchanged. It’s a fantastic celebration of a rich cultural heritage, and it was so good to see it being enjoyed by young and old, locals and tourists alike.
Now, where’s my kilt……?!