Highland communities gear up to host Queen's Commonwealth baton relay next week
Final preparations are underway in Ullapool, Lairg and Thurso as communities get ready to give a Highland welcome to the Queen's baton relay when it returns to and crosses the Highlands en route from the Western Isles to Orkney on Wednesday 9 July .
The day starts at 9.00am at the Ullapool ferry terminal when the Baton is carried off the Stornoway Ferry and is officially welcomed by Janet Bowen the Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty who will hand it over to the first of 8 baton bearers. The journey around the village starts from the pier at 9.25am with the route following Shore Street and Mill Street to Morefield. Activities will be centred at the Macphail Centre where local choir ‘Three sheets to the Wind’ will be performing and mothers and toddlers who will enjoying a storytelling session – part of the Marathon Storytelling project where actor Tam Dean Burn aims to read all the Julia Donaldson books during the relay throughout Scotland. Here the Baton will be shown to two war veterans before it joins the kids taking part in the Commonwealth Games sporting activities High Life Highland are running at the throughout the day.
Drivers should be aware that temporary road restrictions will be in place from 6am onwards around the village and access will be controlled by the Police. Everyone using a car is asked to allow extra time for their journey.
At 10.20am the convoy departs and heads over to the Ferrycroft Centre in Lairg, arriving at 11.45am to join in with the community events organised by High Life Highland which include the storytelling marathon, crazy golf, rounders and fun games while the local sailing club will be offering power boat rides.
At 12.30pm 8 baton bearers will be ready and raring to go as they carry the Baton from the Ferrycroft Centre through Lairg as far as the Police station. On leaving Lairg the Baton will make a short de-tour for a photo opportunity at the MacDonald Memorial Cairn at Rogart before heading north to Thurso. The cairn marks the homestead of the family of John MacDonald, the first Premier of Canada – one of the Commonwealth countries Highland is linked with for the Games.
The baton’s first appearance in Thurso will be during a visit to Millbank Playing Field at 2.40pm where the Thurso Sports Hub, supported by High Life Highland are running a day of sporting events on the playing field. At 3.10pm the Baton bearers will start the relay through the town to join young kids and their parents enjoying the Marathon storytelling session in Gillock Park before returning to the square outside Caithness Horizons for a photo opportunity with the Vikings project andexhibition that will be laid out in the square for the summer, before the Baton makes its way to Orkney.
Drivers should be aware that on the 9 July temporary road restrictions will be in place in Ullapool, Lairg and Thurso and anyone should allow extra time for their journey. The Baton’s next appearance in the Highlands will be when it arrives on Friday 11 July at John O’Groats for a photo at the iconic sign. The Baton will then head south to appear on stage in Jubilee Park, Dingwall at the Highland celebration event, through Wick, Brora, Golspie, Tain and Alness. The free Highland Celebration family event in Jubilee Park starts at 5pm and features live music, dancing and singing and a special performance by the Commonwealth Youth Circus. Gates open at 4pm and a park and ride shuttle service from Dingwall Auction Market will be operating from 4pm – 8pm.