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Harris Mountain Festival becomes annual event

Following the success of the first Isle of Harris Mountain Festival, dates have been fixed for next year’s event and it looks set to become an annual fixture in the walking festival calendar.

The new event ran across seven days from Saturday 24 September to Saturday 1 October. Ann-Marie Hewitt from the North Harris Trust reported: “The main crowds were drawn on Wednesday 28 September when Cameron McNeish gave an evening presentation titled ‘Mountains: Earth’s Enduring Monuments’. Cameron took his audience on a tour of the world’s famous mountain ranges, beginning and ending in the famous, Scottish, Nevis range.

“On Thursday 29 September the audience were introduced to celebrated natural history photographer Laurie Campbell, who is completing a yearlong photographic commission for the North Harris Trust. Laurie gave a 90-minute evening presentation of some of his life’s work, including his landscape photography and his work photographing iconic species such as the Golden Eagle and Red Deer. The previous day, participants joined Laurie Campbell for a one-day photographic workshop. Those who took part were treated to one on one tuition from Laurie to improve their photographic skills, a real privilege for those who took part.

“A guided walks programme during the Festival week showcased some of the remote and beautiful areas of Harris that are accessible via the island’s extensive paths network, including Gleann Crabhadail and Sron Ulladail. The highlight of the programme was the 12 mile walk along the Miabhaig- Bogha Glas path on Saturday 1 October that brought the Festival to a fantastic close. Marshalling along this route was provided by Hebrides Search and Rescue, who did a fantastic job of making sure everyone was on track, and provided walkers with a cup of delicious, homemade, soup at the end of the walk!

“For those who were looking to exert themselves a bit more during the week, the Festival saw the launch of the Harris 5 Peaks Challenge. For the Festival week only there was a free dram, and a complimentary Mountain Festival Miniature, to those who climbed three or more of the 5 Peaks.

“Indoors, and away from the wind and rain, a high quality film package from the Best of Kendal Film Tour 2011 was shown. Also showing was the Triple Echo production the Triple 5. In preparation for the Great Climb in 2010, Dave MacLeod and Tim Emmett attempted to climb 5 routes, on 5 Islands, in 5 days – a world first.

“Festival Friday was set aside for a Ceilidh, with the Anna Fraser Band, held in the ever popular Bays Community Centre in Leacklea. There were a few pairs of bleary eyes at the start of the Community Walk the next day.

“Unfortunately, the changeable Harris weather meant the sea-kayaking taster sessions, and the guided walk to Molinginish, had to be cancelled. However, the interest shown in these events mean that they may feature in next year’s programme.”

Next year’s festival will run from Saturday 15 to 22 September 2012.

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