The Highland Games in Dunoon

dunoon

Not far from where I grew up you will find a boat that takes you to a very special sporting event.

You have probably head of the Highland Games in Scotland but you might think that to get to them you need to put on your thermal underwear and head up to the top of a mountain. The truth is that some of the easiest Highland Gatherings to get to are also among the biggest and best.

The Cowal Highland Gathering is marketed as being the biggest Highland Games event in the world and I’m not here to argue with that. It takes place around Dunoon, right at the most Southerly point of the Highlands region. Getting there is easy, with a couple of different ferry options taking you across the River Clyde from the town of Gourock.

I went back to visit my parents a couple of years ago and had my breath taken away by the scenery. I had seen a lot of the world since I had last been at home but I was amazed when I saw the scenic river leading across to the hills and mountains on the other side. As I stood on the ferry and let the wind blow my hair all over the place I realised that if I hadn’t been born here it might have seemed like the perfect place to live.

Anyway, the event itself has turned into a mixture of traditional sporting events with some modern touches thrown in. This means that you could just as easily see Highland dancing or traditional athletics events as a mountain bike stunt team or a pop up 3D cinema. The events are highly varied these days but there is still a traditional feel to the overall occasion that makes it very special.

Decent Weather but Expect Rain

cowalThe event takes place in August each year, so you can expect decent weather and long days with plenty of light (if not exactly sunshine). That’s not to say that you won’t get rained on at some point during the day. It rains an awful lot in this part of the country and you should definitely think about taking an umbrella and maybe a waterproof jacket with you. Of course, you could also choose to look for shelter in a local pub or beer tent if the heavens open. A lot of the people who visit the games partake of the odd drink and if I’m being honest the only downside for me is that later on in the day things can get a bit messy. If you like the idea of the games but want to avoid too many drunken revellers then I would suggest getting there early and heading off before it gets too late.

This is a fantastic time of year to see this part of the world so if you are planning on seeing the Cowal Highland Gathering I would suggest that spending a decent amount of time in the area is a smart move.

I hired a car for my trip and it turned out to be an inspired move. I picked it up at the airport in Glasgow, drove down to Gourock and then took it across to Dunoon on the ferry. After the games I went for a drive around the area and ended up staying in a brilliant hostel next to the lovely Loch Lomond. After this, it was only a short trip back to the airport to leave the car behind and head off on my flight. Public transport isn’t really all that extensive in this region so having your own car to get around in is a very good idea.

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