Three Lochs goes ahead against the odds

Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival is set to go ahead on the weekend of August 28 and 29.

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It’s been touch and go right up until the beginning of this month but barring last-minute restrictions Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival is set to go ahead on the weekend of August 28 and 29.

This small but perfectly formed festival began shortly after its host venue, Ardnamurchan High School and The Sunart Centre opened in Strontian in 2002, and since then has developed into a highly-regarded biennial event.

As with many public activities last year, the festival was postponed from 2020 but since then the committee has been determined to proceed in 2021, if at all possible.

Current committee chairman Veronique Walraven told the Lochaber Times: ‘We felt that it was essential to go ahead with the festival, even if it had to be reduced in size and scaled-back, to help demonstrate that life can go on.’

The festival has a coastal and environmental flavour this year, alongside a heavy dose of crime – both fact and fiction.

Well-known environmentalist Mark Avery will be talking about the state of
nature conservation today and what more needs to be done; Hugh Raven will be discussing the hurdles his charity Open Seas is facing in trying to get greater protections for the marine environment, and Annabel Lawrence will be talking about how she helped to get our local area designated as the first ever Mission Blue Hope Spot in the UK, part of a network of 200 worldwide sites.

Perthshire-based author Mark Bridgeman will be discussing his fact-finding mission to uncover real historical crime stories, including those in and around Lochaber for his book Blood Beneath Ben Nevis, and inviting an audience to determine the outcome of one of those cases in his Trial by Jury event – with a prize if anyone is right.

Covering crime fiction will be highly regarded multi-award winning author Abir Mukherjee, who specialises in crime thrillers based in 1920s India.

The Indian theme is also addressed by historian Andrew Mackillop from Harris, who will be discussing the subject of his new book, the Highlands and Imperial Wealth.

As usual the festival will have a small pop-up bookshop, this year being supplied by Waterstones in Oban, with opportunities to have the authors personally inscribe your purchases.

Hannah Rarity will be in concert with regular accompanist Innes White on the ‘something special’ Saturday night.

The festival is well-known locally for hosting ‘something special’ on the Saturday night – this year Hannah Rarity (BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, 2018) will be in concert with regular accompanist Innes White, and also Mull-based musician and Gaelic academic Alasdair Whyte, together creating a unique and unusual set specifically for the festival.

Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival has always been run as a small, relaxed, and non-commercial event, primarily for the benefit of Lochaber residents. Even during ‘normal’ times, access to high quality arts events can be challenging and costly, particularly for those living in our remote communities, so the festival works to bring a little of that magic to us.

‘This is not a money-making venture,’ states Walraven, ‘we simply want to bring top quality arts and literature events to our area and that is more important than ever this year.

‘We really hope that people will show their support for what we are doing and come along – rest-assured that all necessary Covid precautions will be in place.’

Restricted capacity means that all events should be reserved in advance by email to
info@threelochs.co.uk.

More information can be found at www.threelochs.co.uk, and on the festival Facebook page – @threelochsfestival

Walraven added: ‘Some of our well-loved local activities may not survive the pandemic, so just as we are all making more effort to support our local small businesses, so too should we support those events and activities which do manage to keep going.’