The Invercharron Highland games, which were scheduled to be held on 15 September near Bonnar Bridge in Sutherland, have been cancelled because the farmer who owns the field where they are held has not been able to harvest his crops, which are ...
Farmer where Invercharron games are held has not be able to harvest slow-growing hay
Highland games are better known for taking place in damper conditions. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
Scotland is more familiar with weather extremes of the icy or wet variety, but this summer’s exceptionally dry conditions have resulted in a traditional Highland games being cancelled.
The Invercharron Highland games, which were scheduled to be held on 15 September near Bonnar Bridge in Sutherland, have been cancelled because the farmer who owns the field where they are held has not been able to harvest his crops, which are unusually slow-growing owing to a lack of rain.
The Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) said it was the first time in living memory that a games had been cancelled because of dry weather.
In an online statement, organisers of the games, which attract thousands of visitors, said: “The farmer, whose field we use, grows his winter feed hay crop in the field and because of the exceptionally dry weather we have had, the crops are growing too slowly and as a result he will not be able to harvest before the games and the feed is urgently needed.”
GraphicExpressing their “severe regret”, they added there was not enough time to complete the licence applications and risk assessments required by the local council even if an alternative sitecould be found at short notice.
The Invercharron gathering takes places towards the end of Scotland’s packed Highland games season, and is particularly important because it allows competitors in events ranging from tug of war to caber tossing to gain vital extra points to secure the coveted top places in the SHGA league.
The association’s president, Charlie Murray, told the Guardian: “Invercharron usually sees the top heavyweights competing, and over the years it’s always had good quality athletics as well as top pipers. It’s a long road up there, but its the end of the season so people will travel there to get more points and secure the second, third and forth places in the league.”
Murray said the heatwave had also contributed to the success of this year’s games season: “Organisers have been reporting record crowds because of the dry spell. It’s been an absolute success for crowds and tourists. But it has its difficulties too. It’s hard to turn the best cabers because it’s difficult to get purchase on the dry ground, and we’ve seen a lot of hammer shafts getting broken. The long jump record was broken at the Tobermoray games, and that was because it was easier on the dry ground.”
He added that he had never known a Highland games be cancelled because of good weather. “It’s the first time I’ve known a cancellation for the reason of dry weather. It’s usually the other way about.”