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Blazened across the front of the programme for the 2019 Morvern Games and Gala Week in both English and Gaelic it says ‘The most scenic Highland Games in Scotland’ which is quite a promise to live up to.
But on Saturday (July 13) the games certainly delivered.
The location was indeed beautiful and a day of more perfect Highland games scenes could hardly be imagined.
The sun shone and in the distance lies Mull, with the Fishnish to Lochaline ferry gliding back and forth. A large and happy crowd enjoyed local seafood, venison burgers and drams while cheering on men in kilts tossing cabers and throwing hammers. The Mull and Iona Pipe band played and Highland dancers performed the Highland Fling and sword dances.
The games on Saturday at Knock Park, Lochaline, were the start of a full week of events which ends with the Final Fling Ceilidh at Lochaline village hall on Sunday (July 21).
The chieftain of the Games and Gala week for 2019 is Elizabeth MacDonald, known locally as ‘Bibby’, and during the chieftain’s address, with the games being officially opened in Gaelic, she welcomed everyone for what she called ‘Morvern’s most important day of the year’.
Speaking as a lifelong Morvern resident, the chieftain said: ‘Even as a school girl I remember the games being a big day. So much has changed over the years but this special day remains the same.’
There were opportunities for all ages and abilities to join in. Children took part in the egg-and-spoon race or ran three-legged race, with large numbers participating in the Morvern Mile – including Rusty the dog, who started but went rogue mid-race and left the track pursued by his owner, last seen headed for the sausage van.
Serious athletes competed in flat races, high jump and long jump, and the heavy events included shot putt, hammer tossing and weight over the bar contests.
The veterans race for the over-60s had an entrant of 91 years of age and the Pipe Band race had a surprise winner crossing the finish line just as the runner-up had thrown their hands up in a victory stance thinking they had won.
The wife-carrying race provided much hilarity as hard-hat wearing women were carried across the finish line in a variety of more and less elegant positions.
Alongside the events in the games field there were stalls offering drams of whisky, bread and cakes, and crafts including handmade baskets, beautiful hand-turned wooden items, seaweed chutney and knitted items.
There was an amazing chainsaw sculpture display, including the live creation of a bench with squirrels carved which will be one of the raffle prizes at the end of the week.
Live music played in the beer tent and there was a variety of inflatable rides to entertain children. An array of food was on offer, including Isle of Mull burgers, hog roast and items from the Isle of Skye bakery. A prosecco and Pimms stand kept everyone refreshed and Mulligans ice cream van
was in attendance.
Chairperson Riona White provided a highly entertaining commentary to the day over the sound system, keeping all the events running smoothly and announcing two notable new things for 2019 – a brand new caber and a streaker on the pitch as a naked toddler broke free from his parents’ grasp and ran across the field.
When not holding the microphone she told me: ‘It’s been a great day. The weather has held, it’s a fantastic turn out and it’s just lovely to see everyone mixing and having fun.’
The only classic Highland presence missing from the scene was the midge – which we doubt anyone missed at all!
A full list of trophy winners from Morvern Games can be found at www.obantimes.co.uk/Lochaber
NO F29 panorama of games field