Crowds flock to finale of 2018 Cowal Highland Gathering - Cowal Highland Gathering
25th - 27th August 2022


News  »  Crowds flock to finale of 2018 Cowal Highland Gathering

Crowds flock to finale of 2018 Cowal Highland Gathering

Billed as one of Scotland’s best days out the finale of the 2018 Cowal Highland Gathering lived up to its reputation.

Thousands of people from across the world gathered in Dunoon today for the final day of the world’s most spectacular Highland Gathering with competitors, entertainers and spectators joining forces to make sure super Saturday was a day to remember.

Crowds watched as over a thousand competitors fought to secure some Cowal silverware. Dancers, pipers, heavy athletes and runners were joined by entertainers including cyclists, gymnasts and musicians to ensure the Gathering’s crowds were wowed from early morning until the end of the day.

The standard of competition was world class, with every athlete and competitor giving their all to leave the Stadium as a Cowal Highland Gathering winner.

Overseeing the action was the Gathering’s Chieftain, former Sky chairman and Cowal resident Nick Ferguson CBE.

One of the highlights of the Gathering’s final day – and one of the most fiercely contested – was, as always, the Cowal Pipe Band Championship. This year, Johnstone Pipe from managed to hold off the challenge of Lomond and Clyde to be crowned winners of the Grade 1 Cowal Pipe Band Championships 2018.

In the other sections and grades, the Cowal Pipe Band champions were:
Juvenile – Oban High School Pipe Band
Grade 4A and Novice Juvenile A combined – Oban High School Pipe Band
Grade 3 – Coalburn IOR
Grade 2 – Johnstone Pipe Band

The champion juvenile drum major was Rowan Murdoch from Denny and Dunipace Gleneagles, and the champion adult drum major was Campbell Gillies of Rothesay and District Pipe Band.

Today also saw the Argyllshire Highland Dancing competitions, with top honours going to Eilidh Gammons from Helensburgh (Under 13), with Isla Flint from Helensburgh winning the under 16 category and Linzi Cameron from Campbeltown triumphing in the 16 years and over.

At 12.30pm, from the Burgh Hall in Dunoon town centre, brave runners lined up for what must be one of the toughest 5K runs in the country – the Cowal Hill Race.

This year, it was won by 40 year old Gavin Whiteside from Inverness, with Grant McKellar from Dunoon Hill Runners second and Paul Monaghan third.

The first local home was Grant McKellar. The winner of the women’s race was Katherine Sims of Dunoon Hill Runners, followed by Jean McLennan.

Then came the biggest Highland Dancing competition in the world – the World Championship finals – this year the Gathering welcomed a record-breaking 768 dancers to compete from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the USA pitting their skills against the best the UK has to offer.

In the end, it was Beret Dernbach from California who emerged victorious in the World Juvenile finals, followed by Robyn McMillan from Lanark (2nd) with Rosey Watt from Macduff coming in third. The trophy for best Scottish Juvenile Dancer went to Robyn McMillan from Lanark.

In the World Junior championship, Michelle Gordon from Huntly held off the challenge of Erin Blair from California (2nd) and Morgan McDougall from Whitby (3rd).

The best Scottish Junior Dancer was Michelle Gordon of Huntly, and the trophy for best Overseas Junior Dancer went to Erin Blair, California.

The Adult World champion was Marielle Lesperance from Nova Scotia, followed by Rebecca Thow from Alberta and Siobhan Watt from Glasgow.

Marielle Lesperance is also taking home the Mary McHarg Quaich for best Overseas Adult Dancer.

The cup for best Scottish Adult Dancer went to Siobhan Watt from Glasgow.

Throughout the afternoon, four of the world’s hottest traditional music bands entertained the crowds in the now legendary Ceilidh Tent.

Always one of the event’s most popular draws, the line up this year featured two bands - Canadian/American band The American Rogues and Beinn Lee - who played the Friday evening Gig at the Gathering. They were joined by local band Heron Valley and headliners Tide Lines playing to the packed tent for the whole afternoon.

While the Ceilidh Tent behind the stadium was rocking, it was a different matter on the stadium itself as the heavy athletes and wrestlers battled it out to secure top honours.

In the International Heavy Athletics Team competition, Scotland eventually carried off the trophy with Germany coming runners up. In the overall individual heavy athletics, Daniel Carlin triumphed in the men’s competition, with Daniel Dorow from Germany second and Martin Schiller from Austria third.

In the women’s event, Lucy Marshall from England beat off the challenge of Christina Scheffaur from Austria (2nd) and Rachel Hunter from Scotland (3rd).

Daniel Carlin and Lucy Marshall were crowned men’s and women’s caber toss champions respectively.

In the wrestling, the Female Open section was won by Heidrin Palsdit, with Margaret Rignacsydath, second and Hamiltons’s Katie McCullagh third.

In the men’s Open competition, Ryan Dolan from Carnoustie was crowned champion, followed by Eiar Ettaison (2nd) and Hamilton’s Paul Craig (3rd). The weight category winners were Victoria Kirk from Hamilton in the 9 and a half stone category, Ryan Ferrey (Hamilton) in 11 and a half stone, Greg Neilson, (Hamilton) in 13 and a half stone and Ryan Dolan (Carnoustie) in the 15 and a half category.

This year, there was even more entertainment on offer for all ages. The Drakes of Hazard returned to the Gathering with their unique and enchanting demonstration of herding Runner Ducks.

New for 2018 saw the thrilling Pedal Power vs Parkour pitting the skills of stunt bike riders against an athlete. One of the biggest attractions was the Gathering’s Silent Ceilidh where participants danced to music played through headphones, of course not everyone was listening to the same tune!

The ever popular entertainer Artie Tresize was back with ‘Artie’s Tartan Tales’. Artie – who spent 30 years as one half of the Singing Kettle – uses his trunk full of trinkets to weave stories in this traditional and interactive Scottish storytelling session.

Cowal Highland Gathering chair Ronnie Cairns said this year’s event will go down as the best in recent times and thanked the people of Dunoon and Cowal for their continued support, as well as the Gathering’s sponsors.

“On behalf of the Board of Cowal Highland Gathering, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this year’s event. Your hard work over, not only the last months, but years has helped ensure Cowal Highland Gathering continue to grow and develop to be an event fit for the 21st century.

“Cowal Highland Gathering belongs to the people of Cowal, we are its custodians and it is our collective responsibility to ensure its history and traditions are honoured until it is time to pass it onto the next generation.

“A huge thank you must also go to the thousands of people who have come out to support the Gathering over the last three days. We’ve welcomed spectators not just from Argyll and Scotland, but from all corners of the UK and, of course our international visitors who have travelled many thousands of miles, just to be with us.

“As well as our visitors here in the Stadium I’d like to also thank the thousands of people who joined us online through our live stream. We hope you enjoyed the competitions from wherever part of the world you were watching from.

“To our wonderful competitors, Cowal Highland Gathering could not be what it is without you. This year’s levels of performance have been simply breathtaking.

“Thank you to everyone involved once again, I look forward to welcoming you back to the 2019 Cowal Highland Gathering.”

Craig Anderson, Chief Executive of The Scottish Salmon Company, headline sponsor of the Gathering, said: “A great time was had by all at this year’s Cowal Highland Gathering, we’re very proud to be a long-term sponsor. The Gathering is always a highlight in the Highland Games season and this year was no exception. Congratulations to everyone who took part, and mention must go to Ronnie, the Gathering committee and those who give so much to ensuring that this is such a successful event and a memorable occasion for so many.”

The evening’s entertainment does not stop when the bands leave the Stadium as Dunoon’s residents and visitors get ready to line the street for one of the most popular traditions – the massing of the bands and their march down Argyll Street.

The final act of this year’s event, as usual, will be the spectacular Western Ferries firework display at Dunoon’s Coal Pier which starts at 9.00pm.

Cowal Highland Gathering is supported through EventScotland’s International Funding Programme. Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Congratulations to all the dancers, pipers, heavy athletes and runners who picked up some much coveted Cowal silverware. Once again the organisers have done a great job in delivery a fantastic three days of competitions and entertainment. EventScotland was delighted to continue its support of the Cowal Highland Gathering this year, a key cultural event for Argyll and Bute that is helping drive Scotland and the regions visitor economy by welcoming competitors and spectators from all over the world to Dunoon each August.”

For information, please visit the Gathering’s website at or contact the event office by emailing or phoning 01369 703206.

A full list of today’s results will be posted on the website as soon as possible.