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Braemar Gathering – Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 

Braemar is a small village in the north of Scotland, deep in the Scottish Highlands. It has a rich history, and has been host to the Braemar Gathering (or ‘the Games’ as it is known locally) for hundreds of years. It always takes place on the first Saturday in September.


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Braemar Gathering - Motorhome Hire

Braemar Gathering 

Games with a history

It is believed that the idea of the Games may have originated as far back as the 10th century, when King Malcolm III ruled Scotland. He is thought to have selected his soldiers by inviting them to demonstrate their physical prowess at ‘Braes O’Mar’.

In the 1800’s the Games took the form that we would recognise today – and the Royal Family have always been in attendance. In 1906, the Duke of Fife donated the village site in Braemar for the use of the Games, and remains the venue to this day.


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The Devil’s Elbow

The invention of the car in the 19th century meant that many more people could get to the Games, since it is a fair distance to travel from Glasgow or Edinburgh. But avid supporters had to negotiate the notorious ‘Devil’s Elbow’ – a terrifying hairpin bend with steep drops. Thankfully the road now follows a different route, but it is testament to enthusiasm for Games that people were prepared to travel there in cars with poor brakes!

Devils elbow.jpg

The modern Games

Nowadays, the Braemar Gathering is a blaze of colour and sound. Many different tartans can be seen, and competing pipe bands dominate the airwaves. This is a great opportunity to soak up the richness of Scottish culture, as well as enjoy some unique athletic events.

The modern Games.jpg

The events

Visitors can expect to see a wide range of traditional events, some more strenuous than others!


Tossing the caber

This is perhaps one of the most famous Highland sports – and it involves throwing a very large wooden pole. The pole, or ‘caber’ is usually 5.94 metres long, and 174lb in weight. The word ‘caber’ is derived from the Gaelic for wooden beam.

The practice of ‘tossing the caber’ is thought to have originated with lumberjacks tossing tree trunks across crevasses in the mountains.

Tossing the caber.jpg

The stone put

The stone put event is very similar to the modern athletic shot put, only it uses a natural stone, rather than a steel ball. In general, the stone weighs up to 26lb for men and 18lb for women. Traditionally the event was known as the ‘Stone of Strength’, and used to involve a rock weighing up to a massive 30lb.


Hammer throwing

The hammer-throwing event is also similar to the Olympic sport, and is a test of strength and accuracy. It is believed that the hammer throw originated as a means of military training. During the wars for Scottish independence in the 13th and 14th centuries, King Edward I of England banned the Scots from possessing weapons, and they needed to turn to alternative methods to train for battle.

There are a number of other less challenging events – such as the tug-o-war, sack race, long leap and sprinting. Dedicated runners compete in an 860m hill race up the Morrone – and this is on the calendar for many national and international athletes.



One lasting memory for any visitor to the Braemar Gathering will be the bagpipes. Throughout the day, local pipe bands from all over Scotland perform, and at midday – the spectacular ‘Massed Pipe Bands’ performance takes place. This is a rare opportunity to see hundreds of pipers playing together, to magnificent effect.


Highland Dancing

The Games play host to many Highland Dancing competitions, such as the Highland Fling, Sword Dance and the Strathspey and Reel. As with the pipers, this is an unmatchable opportunity to witness Scottish culture and traditions.


Where to stay

There are plenty of campsites which accept motorhomes near Braemar – but book early as they will fill up quickly as the 2015 Games approach.


Braemar Caravan Park

Glenshee Road, Braemar, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5YQ

Telephone: 01339 741373

Email: info@braemarcaravanpark.co.uk


Ballater Caravan Park

Anderson Road, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5QW

Telephone: 01339 755727

Email: info@ballatercaravanpark.com


Feughside Caravan Park

Strachan, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, AB31 6NT

Telephone: 01330 850669

Email: info@feughsidecaravanpark.co.uk


The Braemar Gathering is an event like no other, and very well attended every year – including Royal visitors. Book online today and secure your motorhome before everyone else!



Motorhomes are a great way to experience a festival, get a group of friends together and split the cost between you. At UnbeatableHire we have the largest motorhome vehicle fleet in the UK and have depots in 9 locations around the country, meaning that we have the greatest availability during busy festival periods when other providers are fully booked.

Keep your valuables safely located away off site within your motorhome.

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