Sunday, 11 August 2013
Brodick Highland Games
Had a day out at the Brodick Highland Games on the Isle of Arran yesterday. It was partly a 'working day' as I'd agreed to help one of the stallholders, but I still had plenty of time to see what was going on.
Arran is just off the Ayrshire coast, and I'd arranged to get the 7:00 ferry. As the Highland Games was being held about a 15 minute walk from the Ferry terminal in Brodick, I left the car in Ardrossan (just next to Saltcoats on the map.)
Arran is a particularly scenic island, very popular with hillwalkers and cyclists. I would estimate that they made up about 70% of passengers of what was the earliest ferry.
The crossing only takes about an hour, so I was soon at the Games and helping to put up a stall.
Once the stall was up I was free to wander round the games, checking occasionally on the stall in case they needed anything.
For those that don't know, Highland Games consist of a group of very large men in kilts who do a series of events, mostly involving throw large metal objects as far as they can. Only exception to this is 'Tossing the Caber' which involves throwing a large wooden object.
First, and easiest(!), is the shot put.
They move onto throwing things as far as they can – a metal ball attached to a short chain with a handle, a 'hammer' - a large ball attached to a long stick, and throwing a 56 pound (25 kg) squarish weight. There are a number of events where they throw the weights in differing styles, but the most spectacular (and potentially dangerous) is swinging the 56 pound weight between their legs, then throwing it backwards over a high jump type bar. Winner is the person who throws the weight the highest, (and doesn't have it land on their head!)
They then move onto 'Tossing the Caber'. The object of this is to throw a long wooden pole so it land on its upper end then falls away from the thrower. The winner is the person who can throw it so it lands closest to a straight line away from the thrower.
They had 2 sizes of caber, and some of the competitors couldn't throw the bigger one so that it fell away from them.
While all of this was going on, various other events were taking place. There were four pipe bands, including one from my village, who performed both singly and together.
There were also a large number of races, mostly for children and arranged by age group. Starting at 25 metres for 3 and 4 year olds, to 1500 meters for 15 and 16 year olds.. There were also 'adult' races for anyone over 16.
There were Highland Dancing demonstrations and even a children's fancy dress competition.
Around the Games area there were lots of stalls, some commercial and some raising funds for local charities and community bodies. Plenty of places were selling food and drink, many from Arran's local 'craft companies'. I would personally recommend Arran's superb ice cream!
At the end of the afternoon I helped take the stall down and pack everything into a van before making my way to the ferry terminal. There I saw another treat – a 1913 Darracq.
Imagine how cool it is for the children to be taken out in a 100 year old car!
The ferry was very busy with day trippers heading home, but everyone seemed to be very happy after their day out.
If you're ever in the area, Arran is well worth a visit – more info.