Opportunities to pursue outdoor sports in the Highlands are numerous. The rocks and crags attract hill-walkers and climbers; myriad lochs and rivers lure anglers from far and wide; and plentiful deer and grouse bring the autumn shooters. Whether organised or individual, sport is popular and a few can boast of Highland origins.
The Highland League offers football supporters a feast of 'the braw game' on their doorsteps, with team such as Inverness Clachnacuddin, Wick Academicals, Forres Mechanics and Brora Rangers. Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County, both ex-Highland League teams, are now in the Scottish League and doing well. Many other junior village teams play regularly too.
No team game is more truly Highland than shinty (or camanachd). Shinty has roots that can be traced back through Gaeldom to a much earlier Celtic heritage. It is reputed to have been brought to the Highlands during the Dark Ages by Irish missionaries. In its modern form shinty is governed by the Camanachd Association (founded 1893).
The Association can justly state that shinty's "demands of skill, speed, stamina and courage make camanachd, the sport of the curved stick, the perfect exercise of a warrior people". Down through the years comradeship and friendly rivalry have developed between clan and clan, brae and strath. Lovat, Caberfeidh, Kingussie, Kyles Athletic are a few of the clubs participating.
Other team games
Hockey, rugby and cricket are also popular, though less so. Most participation is within the area of Easter Ross, Inverness and Moray.
The roaring game
The Celts gave the Highlands shinty, but Highlanders gave the world curling. Called 'the roaring game' because of the sound produced by the stones as they slide across the ice, curling is now more popular than ever after the success of the British team at the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. However, bonspiels (outdoor tournaments) like those held on the Lake of Menteith have become a rarity and most curling is played indoors now.
Climbing became popular during the second half of the 19th century. The Cuillins, Glencoe, Arrochar Alps and the Cairngorms provided ideal training environments for alpine climbers. Skiing, snowboarding and skating have also become part of the winter sport scene in the Highlands. Mountain biking has also grown in recent years.
Golf is another of Scotland's great games and links courses such as Royal Dornoch and Nairn are world renowned. In addition, there are many 9 and 18 hole courses that provide enjoyment and frustration in ample measure!
If a book listed in the bibliography below is available from the Highland Libraries it will be indicated by a book icon -
Skisters: the story of Scottish skiing
Carrbridge; Landmark press 1982
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