The Games haugh is the site of Glenisla Highland and Friendly Society annual Highland Games and was inaugurated in 1856 at a time Queen Victoria’s love of Balmoral brought a new era of pride in Highland dress, culture and language.
Victoria and Albert’s “last great expedition” in 1861 was to the headwaters of the Isla on Tulchan Estate at the top of the glen.
A past secretary, James Grewar, stated the Games were set up to allow the crofters and inhabitants from the north and south end of the Glen to compete against one another. To this end the Glenisla Highland and Friendly Society was set up under the patronage of The Earl of Airlie.
In its inaugural year Donald Dinnie missed the call for the 400 yard flat race at the Glenisla Gathering. Despite this he dashed to the start line still in his jacket shouting for permission to be allowed to participate; the judges gave the affirmative and he joined some distance from the rear still wearing his tweed. He managed a second-place exclaiming “it was about as much as I could manage”.
It’s a small, traditional Games – often described as a sports day for the locals and the world. The focus has always been on the competitors and the Hill Race up Mount Blair. It is a competition folk come back for year on year.
Held on roughly the third Friday in August, it attracts local, national and international competitors, avoiding the pull of more commercial Saturday Games and the committee warmly share as true a Highland Games as can be found.