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Isle of Harris Mountain Festival Review

The first Isle of Harris Mountain Festival was held recently, running across seven days from Saturday 24 September to Saturday 1 October.  The Festival is a new and exciting event that featured a host of outdoor and indoor activities for visitors and locals alike.

The main crowds were drawn on Wednesday 28 September when Cameron McNeish gave an evening presentation titled “Mountains: Earth’s Enduring Monuments”.   Cameron took his audience on a tour of the world’s famous mountain ranges, beginning and ending in the famous, Scottish, Nevis range.

On Thursday 29 September the audience were introduced to celebrated natural history photographer Laurie Campbell, who is completing a yearlong photographic commission for the North Harris Trust.  Laurie gave a 90-minute evening presentation of some of his life’s work, including his landscape photography and his work photographing iconic species such as the Golden Eagle and Red Deer. The previous day, participants joined Laurie Campbell for a one-day photographic workshop.  Those who took part were treated to one on one tuition from Laurie to improve their photographic skills, a real privilege for those who took part.

Above: Participants on Laurie Campbell’s Workshop

A guided walks programme during the Festival week showcased some of the remote and beautiful areas of Harris that are accessible via the island’s extensive paths network, including Gleann Crabhadail and Sron Ulladail.  The highlight of the programme was the 12 mile walk along the Miabhaig- Bogha Glas path on Saturday 1 October that brought the Festival to a fantastic close. Marshaling along this route was provided by Hebrides Search and Rescue, who did a fantastic job of making sure everyone was on track, and provided walkers with a cup of delicious, homemade, soup at the end of the walk!

Above: Start of the Community Walk

Above: Hebrides Search and Rescue Volunteers manning the Abhainn Langadail River Crossing Point

For those who were looking to exert themselves a bit more during the week, the Festival saw the launch of the Harris 5 Peaks Challenge.  For the Festival week only there was a free dram, and a complimentary Mountain Festival Miniature, to those who climbed three or more of the 5 Peaks.  The 5 Peaks Challenge leaflets can be found in a number of local outlets and route information and further details are available on the website . Go on, give it a go!

Indoors, and away from the wind and rain, a high quality film package from the Best of Kendal Film Tour 2011 was shown. Also showing was the Triple Echo production the Triple 5.  In preparation for the Great Climb in 2010, Dave MacLeod and Tim Emmett attempted to climb 5 routes, on 5 Islands, in 5 days – a world first.

Festival Friday was set aside for a Ceilidh, with the Anna Fraser Band, held in the ever popular Bays Community Centre in Leacklea.  There were a few pairs of bleary eyes at the start of the Community Walk the next day.

Unfortunately, the changeable Harris weather meant the sea-kayaking taster sessions, and the guided walk to Molinginish, had to be cancelled.  However, the interest shown in these events mean that they may feature in next year’s programme.

Planning for next year’s festival will begin soon.  If you have any ideas or feedback you would like to share then get in touch with us via email, , follow us on Twitter @HarrisMountFest, or like us on Facebook, Isle of Harris Mountain Festival.  Programme details will be available on the Mountain Festival website

Thanks to everyone for their help and support in making the first Isle of Harris Mountain Festival a success!


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