Day 203 – Let the games begin!

That would be the Oban Highland Games in Oban, west coast of Scotland. When we saw the Oban Highland Games advertised for the 25th August we were so going to be there.  There was no way that I was going to miss a traditional Scottish games complete with bagpipers, highland dancers, the light and heavy hammer, the light and heavy stone, tug-of-war, track and field and … the tossing of the caber!

The traffic and signs led us to the carpark beside Mossfield for the ‘The Argyllshire Gathering ‘11’. We paid 4 pound for parking and 25 pounds for a family ticket to enter. We arrived not long after the events had kicked off and we found a spot along the fence to watch the goings on.  Dancing, piping, long jump, running and stone throwing, like shot putt but with a traditional rock; were all going on at once.  It was so much fun to watch and it only got better as the day went on.

At lunch we ate the chip van hot dogs, chips and burgers and enjoyed watching the Oban High School Pipe Band perform in the middle of the grounds. 

Following the music the fun races for ‘non-athletes’ started.  It was a real family affair with races for all age groups. Patrick raced the 50 yard sprint for 6-8 year olds.  We are sure he actually came third but somehow got missed by the lady giving out the good prizes and walked away with a small colouring book and crayons and subsequently some tears!  One of those great lessons of life … not everyone wins and you don’t always win what you want!

Harris Harris ran in the 9-12 year old race and walked away with a popping toy after placing 3rd. Harris joined in on the sack race for boys aged 9-12 years and came first!

There was a race for over 40’s but that is 4 years away for Steve and … so when they had a race for overseas visitors, Harris and I joined in.  I ran with girls half my age from Canada, USA, Australia and Ireland and as Steve likes to point out were a head taller than me.  My placing, 2nd last at of the 7 of us! I had fun.   That’s me in the black jumper and jeans.

No Highland Games would be complete without a ‘Kiltie Run’. The pictures tell the story.

The tug-of-war competition was lots of fun to watch as the local strong team put out the challenge to all.  Young men gathered their friends to try to beat the big guys.  Very funny to watch.

  On display for the day was a gorgeous baby Highland calf and it’s mum and also a collection of falcons, kestrels, buzzards and an owl.

Half the fun was watching the parade of men in kilts and paraphernalia and scattered all over the grounds were bagpipers practising before their performances. 


As you can guess it was quite noisy.  I have no idea how you judge bagpiping because really after 5 hours of the games it all sounded the same to our untrained ears!  We headed out before the final awards so we could go the McCaig’s Tower on the way out of town. I’ve pasted in a clipping from wikipedia to explain the tower.  Much easier than me rewriting it all.

McCaig’s Tower[1] is a prominent folly on the hillside (called Battery Hill[2]) overlooking Oban in Argyll, Scotland. It is built of Bonawe granite taken from the quarries across Airds Bay, on Loch Etive, from Muckairn, with a circumference of about 200 metres with two-tiers of 94 lancet arches (44 on the bottom and 50 on top).

The structure was commissioned, at a cost of £5,000 sterling (£500,000 at 2006 prices using GDP deflator), by the wealthy, philanthropic banker (North of Scotland Bank), John Stuart McCaig.

John Stuart McCaig was his own architect.[3] The tower was erected between 1897 and his death, aged 78 from Angina Pectoris, on 29 June 1902 at John Square House[4], Oban, Argyll.

McCaig’s intention was to provide a lasting monument to his family, and provide work for the local stonemasons during the winter months. McCaig was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture, and had planned for an elaborate structure, based on the Colosseum in Rome. His plans allowed for a museum and art gallery with a central tower to be incorporated. Inside the central tower he planned to commission statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. His death brought an end to construction with only the outer walls completed.

What a great day out.  Hope you like the photos.



  • Win Bartholomai August 26, 2011

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun at the games. Did Steve join in any races. I reckon he would look good in a kiltie! You certainly were in the right place at the right time. Love the hairy cow. Take care, Mum and Dad.

  • Nola Hulin August 26, 2011

    Hi Harris and Patrick seems as if you enjoyed your day at the Oban Highland Games I enjoyed my day as well, because we received a card today with some lovely drawings in it. Thank you very much I will treasure them! Have you seen the Loch Ness Monster yet? Have fun look forward to hearing more from you
    love Uncle Bob and Aunty Nola xxx

  • Carin Sandell August 28, 2011

    Oh its so beautiful i Oban. We have been there on our honeymoon. We love Scotland. Enjoy.

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