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Scotland holidays: Highland Games heaven at Loch Lomond



Scotland holidays: Highland Games heaven at Loch Lomond

Really, it’s just like chucking a seven-year-old child over a double-decker bus, the commentator advised us over the loudspeaker at the Helensburgh & Lomond Highland Games.

He was explaining the technique for throwing a 56lb weight over a 16 ft-high bar.

A British beauty: Loch Lomond is a world wonder – especially when viewed from Luss Beach

They love throwing things at Highland Games. It is a useful skill in a rural community. Shot puts, hammers, sheaves of corn and, of course, cabers.

Another valued skill for sheep farmers is running up and down hills. No level playing fields here.

The Helensburgh Games take place on a gentle slope but the going is much tougher at the Luss Highland Games, on the shores of Loch Lomond.

Then there’s the Braemar Games near Balmoral, which the Queen never fails to attend.

‘Anyone who does the Luss Hill Race, slowly up that steep slope, then very fast down again, must have something wrong with their head,’ said the loudspeaker man.

Highland Games

Inchtavannaich Island

Splendid sights: The Highland Games (left) show a familiar version of Scotland via disciplines such as caber tossing. But explore places like Inchtavannaich Island (right), and you can see another side of the Highlands

We were staying in Luss at the Loch Lomond Arms. Newly restored by the laird, Sir Malcolm Colquhoun, it’s a boutique hotel where stuffed creatures lurk in glass cases.

Luss is signposted ‘Scotland’s prettiest village’.

We took a leisurely cruise around the nearby islands from the pier. There are 23 of them and some have brutal histories – Sir John Colquhoun, for example, was murdered on Inchmurrin in 1439.

There are fine views of Ben Lomond, the southernmost Munro, and of an ospreys’ nest atop a Scots pine on Inchcailloch.

Wallabies were imported years ago but sightings these days are almost as infrequent as visits by Sir Alex Ferguson, who has a holiday home at the nearby Carrick golf course.

My wife played a round at the neatly manicured Buchanan Castle golf course – she told me I was too shabbily dressed to accompany her.

Green fee players are also welcome at nearby Helensburgh, but the Loch Lomond Club is an exclusive affair where the joining fee is said to be £80,000. So I went to church instead.

A picture of perfect calm: Loch Lomond is at its best on its west bank at Aldochlay

A picture of perfect calm: Loch Lomond is at its best on its west bank at Aldochlay

A lady handing out SNP leaflets was uncompromising in her views on Scottish independence.

Then the minister at Luss parish church gave a fire-and-brimstone sermon taking in Bannockburn and Robert the Bruce.

This year’s Luss Highland Games are on July 5. It will be a life-enhancing event when haggis and drams are consumed and nothing is worn under the kilt. Try to be there.

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