This year’s Harris Mountain Festival was the best yet, say organisers, despite some typically unsettled Western Isles weather.
The third annual celebration of the spectacular Harris hills took place 14-21 September, with around 570 people in total attending the events through the week. That's well up on last year's showing of 450, and suggests that this relative newcomer has become well established on Scotland's ever-expanding mountain festival calendar.
'We had plenty of guided walks including a couple of excellent hill walks up Bleabhal in West Harris and Giolabhal Glas behind Tarbert, and a packed golden eagle walk with plenty of sightings as always!' says Festival Coordinator and North Harris Ranger Matt Watts.
'Alison O’Neill led two guided walks over the Machair, getting everyone to go barefoot for both walks. Unfortunately the Clisham Horseshoe walk had to be called off, to save anyone from being blown away from the top of the ridge! The programme culminated in an eleven mile hike through the heart of the North Harris hills along the track from Meavaig to Bogha Glas, with great company and spirits that weren’t dampened by the rain coming in through the afternoon.'
Among the indoor events was a talk on John Muir from Cameron McNeish, concluding with a rousing call for a “champion” of wild land in Scotland; a photographic presentation from festival regular Laurie Campbell; and Chris Townsend on his recent long distance trek along the Scottish Watershed.
'We’d like say thanks to everyone who attended,' says Matt, 'and to all who supported the festival, particularly the North Harris Trust, Scaladale Centre, Harris Hotel, SurfLewis, Tarbert Community Centre, Sir E Scott School, MacLennan Coaches, Catch 22, Wee Studio and the Tarbert & Stornoway TI Offices. Also thanks to SNH, the John Muir Trust and the Carnegie UK Trust for funding the festival.'