Organisers of next week’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games are encouraging visitors to ‘get’ Lost when they attend the annual event by recommending the ideal selfie spot in the village of Bellabeg where the event is held. With thanks to Ian McLaren, Innes Associates.
The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which organises the annual event in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, isn’t discouraging visitors from attending the popular event, instead it is looking to inspire those that do to explore Bellabeg and visit local businesses and landmarks.
That includes one of Scotland’s most iconic road signs, the one pointing to Lost.
The small directional flag style road sign has gained legendary status and is among some of the most photographed road signs in Scotland for the confusing message it conjures up.
With the current craze for taking selfies, organisers of the Lonach Gathering hope it will be a fun way to get people to discover more about Bellabeg and Strathdon.
Taking place on Saturday, 22 August, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of north-east Scotland’s best-known and most popular traditional summer events. It attracts up to 10,000 visitors each year, including many from overseas. Keen to boost the benefit that the games provides to the local economy, organisers have launched an initiative to highlight to visitors some of Strathdon’s other sights and attractions.
Within Bellabeg is the Doune of Invernochty, an impressive 12-metre high motte which is all that the remains of a 12th century Norman castle. While a short walk away is the 18th century Poldullie Bridge. When it was built it significantly improved safety and communications in the area and is one of the best surviving examples of an 18th century single semi-circular arch stone bridge.
For those adventurous enough to wonder where they might end up if they followed the sign to Lost, the answer is not far – the road now leads only to a farm. At one time it would have led travellers to the Bridge of Nochty and the Glenbuchat road, from which today they can access the Lost Gallery. Run by Peter and Jean Goodfellow it features paintings and sculpture.
In addition, there is the nearby Goodbrand and Ross tearoom and gift shop at Corgarff, Kildrummy Castle, where the 1715 Jacobite rising was planned, and the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford.
The initiative is in keeping with the aims of Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which was established in 1823 to maintain traditional highland culture and promote social benevolence. Meanwhile, the gathering has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Cultural Event or Festival category in this year’s Aberdeen City & Shire Tourism Awards.
Jennifer Stewart, secretary of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:
“The society’s ethos has evolved over recent years, meaning the support we provide to the local economy through the gathering and events at the Lonach Hall has grown substantially. Around 10% of the local Bellabeg shop’s takings occur in games’ week.
“We’re always keen for visitors to the gathering to explore Bellabeg and the selfie spot is a fun way for them to do that. The sign to Lost has gained legendary status, but many people don’t realise that it is in Bellabeg. In Strathdon we’re really proud of this very simple, but quirky landmark. Over a decade ago we fought a campaign for the sign to be reinstated unchanged after it was stolen.
“With the current craze for selfies we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight the location of the Lost road sign as a perfect selfie spot.”
The 174th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place on Saturday, 22 August at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon. It features a full programme of traditional highland events, including individual and massed piping, highland dancing and light and heavy athletics, with some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes competing. The games commence at 12 noon, but events get underway at 8am as the Lonach Highlanders start their six-mile march around the local area.
Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August – this year’s event takes place on Saturday, 22 August.
The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.
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