Lonach Highlanders steal the show

The Lonach Highlanders on their traditional march through Strathdon
The Lonach Highlanders on their traditional march through Strathdon

Resplendent in their Highland regalia and shouldering their traditional eight-foot long pikes, the Lonach Highlanders were the star attraction at the 178th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games on Saturday.

Following in the footsteps of their forefathers, the marchers set out at 7.50am from Bellabeg on their historic six-mile march through Strathdon.

The Wallace men give it their all in the tug o' war. Picture: Moyra Gray

The Wallace men give it their all in the tug o' war. Picture: Moyra Gray

With the strains of the pipes and drums of the Lonach Pipe Band piercing the morning air, the Highlanders continued a tradition that stretches back nearly 200 years as they visited six local properties, toasting the health of each property’s owners.

The iconic procession this year featured 169 of the society’s 220-strong membership.

Among the ranks were three youngsters who were taking part in their first Lonach march. The eldest marcher was 79-year-old marshalling sergeant George Thomson, from Strathdon.

The Highland Gathering and Games drew a crowd of more than 7500.

A Highland dancer competes at the games. Picture: Moyra Gray

A Highland dancer competes at the games. Picture: Moyra Gray

Visitors from across the UK and the world packed into the games arena from 10.30am, with some travelling from Australia, New Zealand and Canada to attend the event.

The gathering also welcomed a group of 14 students and four adults from the Japanese city of Nagasaki, who are currently on a visit to the UK.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “What a day. Everyone’s hard work over recent weeks to prepare for the 178th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games has paid off.

“There has been a great atmosphere all day and the weather was warm and dry, and not too hot for marching.

“Each year, the march never disappoints.

“The history, heritage and traditions associated with Lonach continue to appeal to visitors from around the world. It was great to hear so many different languages around the games field.

“All of the events have received plenty of encouragement from the sizeable crowd.”

There was plenty for the spectators to enjoy with the Highland dancers providing energetic displays, a field of 107 runners taking on the four-mile hill race and feats of strength and stamina on show in the heavy events.