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Tourists, visitors and locals were all treated to a day of Highland family fun on Sunday at Mallaig and Morar Highland Games.
There was a noticeable mix of accents and languages among spectators at Lovat Field in Morar as the event, once again, attracted hundreds of visitors keen to experience the traditional Highland Games.
Not content with just spectating, many in the crowd were eager to take part with dozens of foreign entries in both the junior and senior competitions.
Chairman of the games, Colin Buchanan, commended the community spirit on show at the games and was pleased to see so many visitors of all ages taking part in the events.
‘We always try to be quite family orientated,’ he said. ‘We’ve introduced more children’s events this year. We’ve also increased the number of races and even tried to improve equity between the genders – all male and female races and events have the same number and quality of prizes.’
The Mallaig and Morar Games retains a strong family connection as Colin himself took over the chairman duties more than 10 years ago from his father-in-law Jackie MacKellaig, who was a stalwart of the games. Even today, the MacKellaig family imprint on the games was clear as several members of the family were either scoring results, collecting gate receipts or manning stalls.
‘It’s certainly a family affair. The MacKellaig’s still have much to do with the organising of it.
‘The games remains one of the very few true community events that are around and they’ve been going for around 100 years now.
‘It means a lot to me personally as I’m a local boy who now lives away. I’m from here and so it’s great to keep the tradition of the games.
‘We’re all delighted with the games this year and to get a decent crowd. I’m lucky enough to have a really strong team of volunteers.’
The heavy competitions were tightly contested and the crowd of mainly tourists marveled at the sight of the kilted competitors tossing cabers and throwing hammers.
‘I am very happy with the entries in the heavy events,’ Colin continued. ‘There’s some really good competitors in there. There is also a really high quality of pipers at the games.’
This year has also seen an increase in the number of junior Highland Games competitors, which the committee says gives them an opportunity to learn how to participate in the heavy events in a safe and controlled environment.
At the Highland Dancing, this is the first year that the Mallaig and Morar games has been an official competition under the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing.
‘The idea to host an official SOBHD competition was to encourage more local dancers to compete,’ Colin explained. ‘There’s a lot of dance classes and tutors locally and in Arisaig and Fort William, so it seemed right to promote it here. And it has borne fruit – there’s been an increase in the number of dancers at this year’s games of all ages.’
Caol and Mallaig councillor and former provost of Lochaber, Allan Henderson, was the chieftan of this year’s games and said that he has seen an increase in the number of foreign visitors to the games since he was chieftan 10 years ago.
‘The area is a destination and people come to stay locally and others head out to the islands. It’s fun for the tourists who are getting their kids involved – there’s lots of foreign competitors this year.
‘These games are run by volunteers and they are part of extended families that live in the village. If it wasn’t for them the games would not happen.
‘We would like to thank two land owners for letting us use their land for the games,’ Colin added. ‘Alan MacDonald lets us use his land for the car park next to the games field, and the route for the hill race runs through Mary MacLellan’s croft. We are extremely grateful to them.’
All photos from Abrightside Photography.
Andrew Orr, Laura Robertson and Ronnie MacIntosh – the young Lochaber pipers came away with four awards between them. F32 MM Games 01.
The crowd watches as a caber is tossed. F32 MM Games 02
Caol and Mallaig councillor Allan Henderson was the chieftan at this year’s games. F32 MM Games 03
Tourists from all over the world came to Lovat Field on Sunday. F32 MM Games 04
Finlay Cameron competes in the piping comp. F32 MM Games 05
The team of Mallaig and Morar Highland Games volunteers and organisers. F32 MM Games 06
Lochaber Schools Pipe Band played at the games. F32 MM Games 07
There was a strong field entered into the junior races. F32 MM Games 08
The adult race gets underway. F32 MM Games 09
Kevin Hart throwing the 22lb hammer. F32 MM Games 10
Moby Knight from Huntly bows to the adjudicator before his dance. F32 MM Games 11.
The junior “heavies” who took part in the games. F32 MM Games 12
Highland dancers put on a colourful show for spectators. F32 MM Games 13
The 56lb weight for distance was well contested. F32 MM Games 14
A young visitor to the area has a go at tossing the caber. F32 MM Games 15