Visit the Highlands & Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games are coming to Scotland this summer, with Glasgow hosting the event which will run from the 23rd of July to the 3rd of August. 69 countries will be taking part in the Games and competing across a range of sports. Whether you’re already a big sports fan or not, this will certainly be a spectacle not to be missed! Of course, if you’re visiting Scotland to watch the Games, it would be shame not to see some more of this beautiful country while you’re here. We may be a little bit biased, but we think that a visit isn’t really complete without a trip to the beautiful Highlands. So why not stay on for a few extra days and experience a little bit more?
We’ve put together our handy guide to some of the Commonwealth Games events that you can catch...and to some of the fantastic Highland sights and attractions that would complement them perfectly!
Swimming at the Games and Watersports at Loch Morlich
Swimming has featured at the Games since they were first held in 1930 and is a sport particularly close to the hearts (in the form of the medals hanging around their neck) of Australians. No country in the history of the Games has won more medals in swimming events than our Antipodean friends. As well as swimming, diving will also be part of the Games, with those particular events actually being held in Edinburgh, at the capital’s Royal Commonwealth Pool.
If water is what floats your boat (sorry!) then the Highlands of Scotland have a fantastic range of watersports opportunities. Loch Morlich, only 10 minutes from Aviemore, offers equipment hire, lessons and a range of courses across different watersport disciplines. Activities that you can enjoy on this beautiful loch include windsurfing, kayaking and sailing.
Cycling at the Games and Mountain Biking on Cairngorm Mountain
Scotland is, of course, the home of the most successful Olympic cyclist of all time, Sir Chris Hoy. Though he’s now retired, he is an ambassador for the 2014 Games and, in fact, the velodrome in which the cycling events will be held has been named the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in his honour. A wonderfully fitting venue in which to watch what will surely be a keenly contested set of events.
If watching others cycling has put you in the mood to get on the saddle yourself, then the Highlands deliver once again. The stunning scenery and fresh air means that there is an abundance of spots perfect for cycling, though few can match the majesty of Cairngorm Mountain. Two different descents of the mountain are possible, with the mountain’s own funicular being used for uplift. Qualified mountain bike guides are on hand to ensure a safe and memorable experience.
Bikes are also available to hire in the grounds of the the hotel.
Hockey at the Games...and Shinty in the Highlands
Hockey will be making an appearance at the Games and, as with swimming, you probably have most chance of celebrating a medal win if you’re an Aussie. Since the event was added to the Games in 1998, the Australian men’s team have emerged with gold at every event. The women’s team have also dominated...though they currently find themselves below both New Zealand and England in the world rankings so 2014 may see a new winner emerge.
One traditional Scottish sport which is often compared with hockey is shinty. It’s not part of the Games though, so if you want to experience the thrill of watching a match then that’s another reason to make your way north to the Highlands. The shinty season continues through the summer, so you may be able to catch matches involving famous shinty teams like Kingussie and their local rivals, Newtonmore.
What exactly is shinty? Well, it’s an ancient sport which is believed to have origins going back over 2000 years! Though it can resemble hockey, one difference is that players are allowed to play the ball in the air and to strike the ball with both sides of the stick (known as a caman). Shinty probably had a role to play in the origins of ice hockey. It’s believed that Highland migrants to Canada played shinty on ice there in the early 1800s and that this was key to ice hockey eventually emerging as a hugely popular sport in the country.
How can you enjoy a Highland break after the Games?
The Hilton Coylumbridge in Aviemore enjoys a fantastic setting in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, making it perfectly positioned to take advantage of all of the Highland activities mentioned in this blog. Aviemore also has its own railway station, with direct trains available to and from Glasgow (and also Edinburgh).
To find out more or to book your fantastic summer stay with us now, please contact us.