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Bowhill Highland Games to make comeback after 69-year hiatus

Highland dancing will be among the activities at Bowhill Highland Games. Photo by Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock
Highland dancing will be among the activities at Bowhill Highland Games. Photo by Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

Bowhill Highland Games will return to Cardenden in Fife this September for the first time in 69 years, organisers have confirmed.

Traditional events like the caber toss as well as races and dancing competitions are planned for the event, which is set to take place Sunday September 12.

Husband and wife duo Margaret and Don Campbell had originally planned to bring the games back to the area in 2020 but were forced to postpone the plans due to coronavirus.

Don, an accomplished highland Games competitor, says he approached his local councillor, Linda Erskine, about the possibility of restarting the games about two years ago.

Councillor Linda Erskine (left) has helped Don resurrect the games

He said: “Since we moved to this area it has always been on my mind to bring the games back.

“It all started with just a chat with Linda Erskine, and I told her about the games that used to happen here. It just went from there really.

After getting approval for the games to go ahead, Don and the committee have been preparing the event and gathering competitors.

Fife Council finally confirmed the games would be able to go ahead this week.

Don added: “We have a full complement of runners from as far as the Lake District and some of the best cyclists in Scotland.

Competitors from across UK to take part in games

“Sixty-nine years from the last games they will return, and the village is obviously really excited about it.

“If we get a good day, hopefully we could see as many as 4,000 people turn out.”

Margaret and Don first thought about bringing the games back to Bowhill in 1976 when they rediscovered a cup dedicated to one of Margaret’s relatives – the Gilbert Taylor Bowhill Highland Games 1948.

Husband and wife duo bring back Bowhill Highland Games

Margaret has tracked the cup ever since then, and the games in September will finally see it brought home to Bowhill.

The event has been backed by sponsors including the Ore Valley Housing Association, with chief executive Andrew Saunders donating £5,000.

Local man John Gilfillan BEM will serve as the games’ chieftain.

Don said: “The games will offer the best in full Highland Games tradition, with athletes from the Scottish Borders to the Highlands.

“We will have the best cyclists in Scotland, champion Scottish highland dancers, and the finest Scottish heavyweights on the circuit.

Local politicians hail return of games to Cardenden

SNP MP Peter Grant said: “It’s wonderful news that the Games are returning to Cardenden after such a long absence, and especially after the disappointment of last year.

“I’ve no doubt that as well as attracting visitors from near and far the people of Cardenden will turn out in their usual big numbers to support this momentous day.”

‘Amazing effort’ by volunteers

Local MSP Annabella Ewing added: “After an absence of almost 70 years another year’s delay may not seem like much.

“But I am absolutely delighted that the first Bowhill Highland Games since 1952 is finally set to be held in Cardenden this September.

“There has been an amazing effort on the part of volunteers in the village to get this going again, notwithstanding a pandemic-induced postponement last year.

“I am certainly very much looking forward to attending.”

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