Highland Games

Trip Start May 19, 2008
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Trip End Jun 02, 2008


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Sunday, May 25, 2008

The game plan was to head to Inverness today, maybe do a hike along the south shore (or, as I would call it, the east shore) of Loch Ness.  However, two German travelers staying at our hostel changed our plans.  They told the innkeeper, who told us, that we had stumbled on the Blair Atholl Highland Games just 30 miles down the A9 highway.  Since we'd read that they all happened in July and August, this was an unexpected gift that fell in our lap.  We changed plans and went.

We spent the morning listening to a lot of history and geography of Scotland from George, a man at the hostel who must be at least in his 70's.  All seven (yes, seven) of his older brothers fought in 'the war,' meaning World War II.  He has spent his life doing mountain rescue and knows quite a lot-- and was happy to talk about it.

The Highland Games ( http://www.blair-castle.co.uk/events/index.asp) included hammer throwing, stone throwing, and trying to toss an iron weight backwards over a bar.  The Atholl Highlanders, Europe's only remaining private army (though I'm not sure what one does with one's own private army in this day and age) marched around the field behind their drums and pipes, and then all the Atholl Highlanders had a race... a very short one, across the atheletic field.  Pipers competed all day, so we have listened to five solid hours of bagpipes, usually three or four at a time.  There were also about four or more solid hours of Scottish dance competition.

We wandered around the grounds of the castle on which the Games were held and saw many gardens: the Wall Garden with lakes and islands and statues... and flowers; the Water Garden with streams and waterfalls; the Round Garden which was, well, a round garden.  Paths went through wooded grounds between all these gardens.  We found the Church of St. Bride, and we kept seeing signs for a statue of Diana, to and from which all paths were supposed to lead.  But we never actually found it.

We took loads of pictures and videos, but as we are still at a public computer, there is no way to upload them right now.
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