The Scottish Highland Warrior is a romantic and legendary figure which conjures up images of William Wallace and fiercesome claymore wielding clansmen. Highland Games were the place for these clans to compete against each other and show off their strongest and bravest men.
Highland Games today may be less battle like but it is still a showground for not only the strongest men in Scotland to perform against each other but also against some tough international adversaries.
Highland Games season runs from May to September and I visited my first event of the year this weekend at Carmunock, a pretty conservation village on the edge of Glasgow. This is one of the smaller events but it does attract some big characters (in personality and build!!) in both international Strongman and traditional Highland Games competitors. This year Scotland's current strongest man Luke Stoltman was one of the main attractions along with some impressive international names.
The event was also being filmed by Australian TV as part of their coverage of the Commonwealth Games.
Carmunock Highland Games puts a big emphasis on both traditional events like caber toss and stone put and strongman favourites including Atlas stones and log lift. I must confess to being a big Strongman fan and getting up and close to some of my favourite events was a real highlight.
The crowd was a good mix of locals and international visitors and after a wet start the sun came out to stay and everyone seemed to be really enjoying the day and musical entertainment which added a lively atmosphere to the event.
Highland Games also encourage crowd participation with fun challenges for anyone brave enough to take part. There was no shortage of volunteers from all corners of the globe wanting to show off their sometimes dubious strength and skill! Participating in a Highland Games in Scotland is certainly a unique memory to take home whether you win or lose and something I may even be persuaded to do in the future!
An American wedding party from New York had a day to remember after being invited to take part in their own tug of war. Having married at Edinburgh Castle the previous day the Bride and Groom gathered their family and friends together for an extra special Scottish wedding memory.
This is the first of several Highland Games I will be visiting this season of various sizes and traditions. At the end of August I will be heading to the Cowal Gathering which is the biggest Games in the world, with the highlight being 1000 pipers and drummers playing 'Highland Laddie' in unison which I'm really excited about.
Highland Games may have their routes in tradition and history but among the kilts and bagpipes are some very skilled sports people, dancers and musicians who put on a great days entertainment and are very relevant in showcasing the talent of modern day Scotland.
Look out for my future posts from other Highland Games around the country. If you have a favourite let me know and I might try and make it along!
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