2016 Mountain festival review
This year’s mountain festival was dominated by one thing, the weather!
It was always going to be a hard one to follow the success of last year’s festival but this year the weather finally got the better of us. Many of the events in the programme were cancelled due to gale force winds and heavy rain.
For those did come, the festival was a lot of fun! As in previous years, people came over to Harris specifically for the festival. As well as local people, there were visitors from as far afield as Sweden and Brazil.
This year’s programme introduced mountain biking to the festival with two events offered; a guided ride and a cross country race. The guided ride was well attended with a high number of local people attending, many of which were women.
The mountain bike race had nine hardy people enter the gruelling 32km race. The eventual winner, Gavin Earons completed the course in 2h41mins and was rewarded with a bottle of Harris Gin! I hope that this will be the start of an annual race at the festival and next year I hope to have more prizes to give out and be a bit more organised with lifts to and from the finish. Well done and thanks for all the competitors. A special mention should go out to 13 year old Anish Toor who completed the course in less than favourable conditions.
Sea Kayaking is growing in popularity around the UK and unsurprisingly both the beginner and intermediate sessions were popular. Next year we hope to expand the sea kayaking and offer an advanced level trip with a possible overnight camp on a deserted island! Please keep an eye on the website and social media.
We again teamed up with local businesses and organisation to deliver a wider range of activities. Segway Hebrides ran the popular trips up Glen Meavaig but unfortunately the weather cancelled one day’s trips. The same was true of the powerboat trips provided by the Scaladale Centre. Out of a possible ten trips only one went ahead!
The guided walks were badly affected by the weather with it not being possible to reach the summits of any of the hills and the Clisham walk being cancelled all together. The eagle walk was however a great success with plenty of good sightings. This year the Islands book Trust provided a guided walk along the Coffin route. The walk went ahead despite there not being any visibility!
In the evenings we offered a series of talks. The two most popular talks were by Sean Ziehm Stephen and Robin Reid. Sean’s talk was the best attended event of the whole festival. He talked about his kayaking adventures around the world which had the audience enthralled , just don’t go down a river in a kayak with him! James Ogilvie also returned to talk about summiting Everest.
Darren Cole and Harris 365 Photography ran photography workshops. These events are always popular with visitors and locals alike. The weather was surprisingly good for photography!
Budding fisher folk were catered for with taster sessions in both fresh and salt water. The catches weren’t brilliant but it was a good introduction to the reality of fishing.
Want chips with that?
The raft race has been a firm fixture since the festival began in 2011. This year saw five teams take up the challenge. The spectators were treated to some quality rafting (and cheating) with the eventual winners on a craft called Rafty McRaft Face! They won some Amazon vouchers.
Over the next few weeks we will have a firm dates for next year’s festival. During the autumn and winter we will be devising a programme full of new and old events to make 2017 the best festival ever! Please feel free to contact us on email@example.com if you have any ideas, things you would like to see at the festival or comments on this year’s event. We can also add you to our mailing list so that we keep you up to date with the plans as they happen.
The North Harris Trust would like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, Marine Harvest and Calmac for funding the festival. We greatly appreciate the support from all of the businesses, organisations and individuals involved.
Also a big thank you to everyone who braved the weather to attend this year’s events.
We look forward to welcoming you all next year!