Lonach Gathering draws the crowds

Lonach Highlanders march in the games arena
Lonach Highlanders march in the games arena

An estimated 7500 spectators arrived in Strathdon on Saturday for the annual Lonach Gathering.

The skirl o’ the pipes filled the valley as the traditional match took place ahead of the games, featuring 170 kilted Highlanders carrying eight foot pikes and colourful standards.

Along the way, the parade halted at six properties.

At each, with a dram of whisky the men toasted the health of the owners, the Lonach society and the local area.

At 1pm, the Highlanders marched into Bellabeg Park to enthusiastic cheers and applause to officially open the 176th Lonach Gathering.

Throughout the day, there was bright sunshine and warm temperatures, only interrupted by occasional light showers in the morning.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “The spectacle of Lonach and the march of the Lonach Highlanders never disappoints.

“Bellabeg was abuzz all day and it is wonderful to see. Every year, I look round the arena as the Highlanders march past and without fail there are beaming smiles and emotional faces in equal measure amongst the crowd. Lonach tugs at the heartstrings.”

She added: “We saw some very closely fought competitions on the field, which is great for everyone to see.

“Tossing the caber, the hill race, the tug o’ war pulls and the children’s races all gained vocal support from spectators. The pipe bands also drew large crowds.

“Overall, it was a brilliant day and we thank everyone who has been part of it.”