As soon as we heard about the Braemar Gathering on the first weekend of September we decided we needed to go there. We ordered tickets for the stands (which are seats) and had an early start this morning. The drive is about 90 minutes through a wonderful area. Braemar is deep in the Cairngorms National park and we loved the views though we were wondering where the other people were that were supposedly going to attend in the thousands.
Shortly before Braemar we were diverted onto a tiny sealed road which was little more that one modest car width toward the parking area for the Gathering.
Once we got there we quickly found our seats. We could see we were early. SO got us coffee and muffins and we installed ourselves as comfortably as we could on our wooden seats. The whole day it was overcast, just a smidgen of sun in the afternoon and I think we only felt one or two drops of water coming out of the sky We were very lucky
But what fun we had! Hammer throwing, weight throwing, thug of war, sack racing, tree throwing, tack and running up a steep hill (and back) at amazing speeds. Our seats had good views of those. But there was also high jump, long jump, Highland dancing, and bagpipe and drum bands playing. So much going on at the same time. We had so much fun watching it all.
What we also loved were all the men in kilts. We were just amazed at the variety and how many were in traditional highland attire. We really enjoyed comparing the ones and coming up withe our most favored one, dubbed the MacSO tartan 🙂
There was just one sour note on the whole day. In the afternoon the seats around us were finally taken up by the people that had bought them. Four or five American families where the women greeted each other with noises that usually are associated with opening a shed filled with wild banshees and that were giving the word yeppping a new meaning. One of the women, I swear, never saw anything as she was back to front the whole time. Well maybe not quite, the exception was when the queen arrived. The all of a sudden those staunch republicans needed to cheer, stand up and open again that shed with banshees to welcome the queen. So much what we thought why don’t they get one of their own if they like it this much. We were glad when they finally left.
The best part of the gathering were the mass marches, where all pipebands march together. 11 bands together really make an impressive spectacle and with the bagpipe in its element i.e. with room for the sound to vibrate far it is one magnificent event to watch. We thoroughly enjoyed this gathering of the young and old, with a mix of the traditional, folklore and pure entertainment and sportsmanship. Sure the queen was a nice added element, but really the gathering itself was everything we could have wished for and more.
When driving back to the B&B we felt how rosy we were from being outside the whole day. It was funny to see the long line of cars and buses that was forming a ribbon from Breamar to the north and south winding itself over the A93. Southbound it took until Blairgowie to really disperse the ribbon. Tired we are now relaxing. We are totally exhausted with all the impressions but what a great day it was.