This year we are venturing out onto the Highland Games circuit and first up are the Loch Lomond Highland Games on 14th July at Moss o Balloch Park. Just the pronunciation of Balloch makes it feel extra Scottish and the area around Loch Lomond is so beautiful this is sure to be a good day out. The Games have been running since 1967 and are one of the top three Highland Games in Scotland, playing host to the World Heavyweight Championship and 80m Scottish Sprint Championship.
Lucas Wenta from Poland scooped the Heavyweight Championship last year and is showing good form winning the first games of the season at Gourock in May. Strength at the Games runs in the family as his brother Sebastian was runner-up in World's Strongest Man in 2007 and broke the record for the Weight for Distance throw at the Arisaig Games in 2011.
From 10.30am the Highland Dancers will be taking to the stage from 4 years old, contrasting with Wrestling at midday. Now if like me you have no idea what "Scottish Backhold Cumberland Style" might be then I shall explain. Scottish backhold wrestlers grip each other around the waist at the back, with the right hand under the opponent’s left arm and the chin resting on the opponent’s right shoulder. When the referee is sure that both wrestlers have a firm grip he shouts “Hold” and the bout begins. Should either wrestler break his hold or touch the ground with any part of his body except his feet, he loses. There is no ground wrestling and bouts are usually best of five falls. The main difference from a style such as Graeco-Roman, the original style of the modern Olympic games, apart from the ground wrestling in Graeco, is that in that style trips and attacks against the legs are not permitted, but in Scottish backhold wrestling they are fundamental. We are looking forward to seeing this event in real life!
Balloch itself is a fabulous place to visit if you want to spend a few days either side of the Games exploring the area. Balloch Castle sits in the grounds of Balloch Country Park, perfect for gentle walks and exploring your Scottish history. The Castle was originally built in 1238 by the Earls of Lennox but all that remains is a mound surrounded by a shallow depression which was the old moat protecting the castle. The original keep was abandoned in 1390 in favour of a site on Inchmurrin, Loch Lomond's biggest island, and also the largest inland island in Britain. There was once a chapel on the island called St Mirren, hence the name. Today a modern castle stands in place of the original Balloch Castle, build in 1808 for John Buchanan of Ardoch, complete with decorative turrets and slitted windows, and home to a visitor centre with amazing views over Loch Lomond from the roof.
We will be at the Loch Lomond Highland Games with our tent full of lovely tartans so pop in and say hello. Along with our stock range we will bring swatches of over 500 tartans and our measuring tapes just in case you are looking for a specific clan or made to measure garment. We look forward to seeing you there and if you can't make it we will also be at North Berwick, Bridge of Allan and Cowal Gatherings.