Smiles in the rain at Arisaig Games and clan gathering
YOUNGER competitors were determined to grab some of the glory this year at the annual Arisaig Highland Games, with the average age of competitors in many events lower than usual.
This year’s games on Wednesday last week proved popular yet again with locals and visitors making their way to the picturesque Traigh Farm and its stunning views across the sea towards Skye, Eigg and Rum.
Games chairman Allan MacDonald said the overall turnout through the gate was not as good as last year, which was not surprising given the rain-lashed conditions for much of the afternoon.
‘It was still a good turnout when you consider the awful weather and it’s been a very cheery and happy crowd,’ he said. ‘There’s been a lot of young people competing - more so than previous years - and that’s nice to see.’
Asked if he thought the traditional mid-week date for the games had anything to do with a lower turnout, Mr MacDonald, who has been involved with the games for more than 50 years, said he didn’t believe so.
‘We did try a Saturday about 30 years ago and people just didn’t come - there’s just too many other things happening on Saturdays in the summer,’ he said.
‘These are our 82nd games and of those 33 have been staged at this same field and we’ve never had to cancel them. And despite the rain, there’s lots of visitors here and it’s still a good day out.’
Mr MacDonald says linking the annual Clanranald Gathering with the games for the past 13 years is about balancing culture and heritage.
‘These two events together help us promote the culture of the Highlands. We’re also grateful to Ardnamurchan Distillery for keeping faith with us and providing regular sponsorship.
‘This year’s events have gone very smoothly, apart from the weather, but you can't do anything about that.’
As usual the heavy events drew a big crowd of spectators and one of the highlights of the day was Blair Atholl's Lorne Colthart breaking the games record for the 16lb hammer contest.
Campbell, a native of Oban originally, posted a distance of 140ft 6ins to break the previous record of 137ft.
‘Yeah, I’m happy with that given the conditions and it being such a cold and wet day,’ he told the Lochaber Times during a break in competition.
‘It’s a nice games to come to, nice atmosphere. As for the level of competition at games generally, it is getting harder as a lot of foreign competitors are taking part and staying longer through the season for more events as they are all open meets.’
Asked about the number of Clanranald members making the trip from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada this year, Elizabeth MacDonald, wife of the games chairman, said there was a considerable number of Americans this year.
‘The gathering is always popular and those taking part really like being able to also spend time at a traditional Highland games as part of it all,’ Mrs MacDonald said.
Crowds enjoy the games despite the rain.
Lochaber Pipe Band entertains the crowds.
Sisters Freya and Cora Farelly, aged five and three, brave the weather and enjoy their ice creams.
Dominic Hobson, 12, at the archery stall with father Simon.
Determination on the faces of runners as the junior boys’ race gets under way.
Callum MacDonald looks happy with his performance in the heavy events.
Highland dancers show off their skills to the crowds at Arisaig Highland Games.
Local men’s race begins.
Brooke Bettinson, four, during the junior races.
Arisaig Highland Games chairman Allan MacDonald enjoys a welcome spot of sunshine.