Home to the Highlands
I was fortunate to attend the Lonach Highland Gathering accompanied by a real Scotsman. Here are his words, and my photos:
My first return to the unique and utterly charming annual gathering and games of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, and it’s as if the past thirty years since my last attendance hadn’t happened.
Only the woman by my side and my slightly more expensive Scotch drinking tastes were there to define the passing of almost half a lifetime.
The highlanders from the Wallace and Forbes clans marching as ever, heroically still on their feet despite a morning march full of wee drams of highland hospitality, with faces strangely familiar.
But surely these are now the sons of the men I marched with all those years ago, amongst the “Tweedies” bringing up the rear? Named by Billy Connolly, present and only a few seats away from us, the Tweedies are the hangers on, not-quite clansmen, patrons, friends, distinguished by their tweed jackets rather than the full Lonach Highlander’s regalia. Nevertheless the Tweedies are armed, as the Highlanders, with serious pikes, my brother included, and fuelled by serious drinking.
The horse and cart brings up the rear, collecting stragglers and casualties of the march. Later that night, for the survivors, there will be a ball at the Lonach Hall, next to the Colquhonnie Hotel.
As the afternoon turns to a haze of pipe bands, highland dancers, caber tossing, and fortified by stovies (a local delicacy), macaroni cheese (another one) and hipflask (a local necessity), we make our way to our rendezvous with our taxi by the single shop in Bellabeg, stepping by the happily drunken remains of highlanders and their girls.
No public transport here, no one from the glen capable of operating machinery of any description, our car arrives and we are whisked off over hill and glen to the sanity of our hotel and a four course dinner.
Words by: Dr D in Oz