The Kilty Pleasures of The Highland Games

There’s a man by the name of Hamish MacGregor ahead of you, he’s yelling, yelling loudly in his local ‘Scottish-tongue’ from a mouth surrounded by ginger whiskers, ahead of him is a sea of tartan and the sounds of bagpipes accompany in the background. The audience cheers just as loud (half not quite sure what they’re actually cheering for – that accent is THICK) – he has just won a crowd over..
Welcome to the Highland Games.

I’m sure most of us who are Gen Y’s or ‘Millenials’ probably only know as much about the Highland Games as we do about The Simpson’s creator Matt Groening- not THAT much and the image we have projected into our mind of Scottish Men looks coincidentally like the BBC Scotland’s video recently doing the rounds on social media – Kilted Yoga – for some reason I seem remember those core values very well… don’t you?

At the core of The Highland Games, there is tremendous history; it is widely believed they begun in 2000BC from Ireland where the people were to cross the waters to Scotland… and would become a series of games that Clans would compete against each other with. So yes, there’s lots of years on this – but the juiciest part of the history was when the infamous Jacobite Rebellion in 1746 would bring forth an Act that would slip the Games into a coma and the men of Scotland hung up their proud kilts. Basically, the wearing of all Scottish dress would be completely outlawed along with gatherings and practicing traditional customs.
Hang on a second. Wait, what? Outlawed, you can’t do that!
It’s okay -eventually the Act would be abolished in 1822 and the fresh King of Scotland: George IV would take to Edinburgh in his full Highland attire, as if to say some choice swear words and basically “The boys are back in town”.
This tradition would become celebrated more than ever since then and used as a way of bringing a community together.

And… cheekily would picked up by other countries starting in 1836 – I’m talking to you America! 😊

Highland Games

Highland Games

These games are practiced in up to 80 locations within Scotland and are not your usual collection of games, nothing like those you would see in the Olympics. They’re better! The men engage in the manly contests of Tug of War, Caber Tossing, The Hammer Throw, Highland Dancing, Stone-Put & Track and Field, to name a few… And many locations have competitions for women to partake in too.
The Highland Games are a perfect mixture of sport, good times, tradition & music –  all in the name of testing each competitor’s strength, creativity and determination.

Fun fact: The Men competing in the games must wear a kilt as a rule set out by The Scottish Highland Game Association.

No I can’t promise all the men are as divine as in the previously mentioned BBC video but… what I can GUARUNTEE is a great day witnessing one of the oldest traditions Scotland has to offer!
Company – Visit Scotland has a great guide to the Highland Games which you should check out, if you’re keen.

Featured Games Locations – One of my favourite locations in Scotland is Oban, right on the water and there the Oban Games are run in July and August each year, another epic Highland Games not far by car is in Dunoon.
If you’re chasing a place to stay whilst enjoying the games in Oban, we have one!

I finish in saying that the Highland Games are EPIC and a major tradition in Scotland, more than just hot men in kilts, so trust me it’s worth them checking out!
After-all it’s just Scot’ to be done!

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blogger.

Isle of Skye’s Prehistoric Gem

Imagine for a moment you could go back in time… as far back as even 170 odd million years to when the mighty dinosaurs still ruled this earth.
The dinosaurs were powerful, they were fearless and without a doubt- the champions of a world we will never fully understand.
They’ve gone now but have since left their marks in the forms of bones and GIGANTIC footprints.

It might not be Thursday but let’s have some Throwbacks to the days of watching Jurassic Park at home on the television, watching in amazement as the prehistoric beasts came to life in front of us and the characters fighting for their lives against them. Maybe you were once a tiny human who walked around ‘roaring’ at the top of your lungs to anyone near, in hopes you’d terrify them. Those were the days!
Dinosaurs are still awesome, and guess what? The dinosaur fun doesn’t have to end in your childhood.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

Back in 2015 a small group of researchers from Edinburgh University were led by a palaeontologist named Steve Brusatte to find dinosaur remains in Duntulm in the Highlands of Scotland. Even though their chances of finding dinosaur bones were small (almost as small as the country itself) they did happen to find something else, which was, in my opinion – pretty damn cool: very well preserved fossilized footprints. The footprints preserved by sedimentary layers in rocks and belonged to Sauropods (a breed of dinosaur which weighed more than 10 tonnes!). The researchers were very excited, and for good reason! Not long after the discovery, these prints were concluded as some of the very best dinosaur tracks found in the world! National Geographic called it “the largest dinosaur site ever found in Scotland”. In the Isle of Skye footprints have been found in areas such as Staffin Beach & Duntulm. The prehistoric footprint collection has seen travellers & locals nickname the area– ‘Dinosaur Isle’ or ‘Jurassic Island’.

I hope you’re making a trip up to the Isle of Skye! The beaches on their own are uniquely beautiful – some parts sandy, some salty and some have plenty of green mossy rocks. Make stops along the way to gaze into the rock pools. All that beauty aside… you must remember – you’ll literally be going on a dinosaur hunt, which means you also get to refer to yourself as Dinosaur Hunter (hashtags and all) . I promise you’ll smile to yourself cause’ you’ll actually be walking in the footprints of dinosaurs and embracing your own Jurassic story.
Many visitors to the say that the experience will have you questioning your part in the evolutionary experience. Just imagine comparing your feet or your hands to these larger than life prints.

The footprints are there, but it must be said #dinosaurhunter, that they can be as tricky to find them as the dinosaurs themselves- many travellers have visited and left the area having not found them. Instagram tags barely make up 300 images; partly for this reason.
Challenge accepted- I hear you say, that’s what I want to hear!

Now.. here are my Top-Tips to get the most out of your search..

Isle of Skye, Staffin Beach, Dinosaur Footprint.

  1. Stream the very first ‘Jurassic Park’ movie ever made – circa 1993. And watch it the night before! Get those adventure feels flowing, and hey if you’re keen – do 2,3 & Jurassic World too!
  2. Get up early to check them out! Low tide is the best time.
    Investigate the low tide times of the site you’re visiting prior. The central township of Portree has a tourist information centre which identify these times and/or looking it up online. Depending on which location you are going to visit & what time of the year- start times could be 4am or later.
  3. Wear some non-slip Gumboots/Galoshes/Wellies, no time for wet feet when we are Dinosaur Hunters.
  4. Check out the quirky Staffin Dinosaur Museum where the team there have a wealth of knowledge and offer priceless guidance to finding the coveted footprints.
  5. Get an epic shot of yourself in your best dinosaur pose next to a footprint!
    The seemingly common ‘Millenial’ question these days is: “if it isn’t on social media did it actually happen?” – might as well make it a great one!
  6. Someone once told me “every misadventure leads to a great story” – maybe you don’t find them straight away, maybe you lose a gumboot or fall in the water? – but those things MAKE A STORY when you tell the grandkids about that epic time you followed some clues and went dinosaur hunting.

Have fun ticking this prehistoric little beauty’ off your bucket-list.

And if you’re chasing a place to stay while you get you’re ‘dinosaur hunting’ on… look no further than Scotland’s Top Hostels local Skye Backpackers – Only a short drive to the dinosaur sites. CLICK HERE.

Written by – Court Jeremiah.
STH Blogger.