On your marks…. get set….Go! for Queen’s Baton Relay
Next Friday (11 July) the Highlands will be hosting the Queen’s Baton Relay for a whole day as it makes its way from John O’ Groats to be centre stage at Jubilee Park in Dingwall as the finale of a special Highland celebration event.
Communities are being encouraged to line the streets and cheer on the baton relay when it travels through the Highlands on Friday and Saturday. The Caithness Civic Leader, Councillor Gail Ross and the Lord Lieutenant for Caithness Anne Dunnet will be at John O’ Groats at 9am to set the baton on its journey south with it arriving on the outskirts of Wick at 10.05am. Baton bearers will be lined up to carry it through the town. They’ll be a brief stop at Rosebank Amenity area where a youth club open day is taking place before it visits Bignold Park at 10.30am to meet young people taking part in football coaching sessions, other sporting events and storytelling session organised by High Life Highland and Wick Academy F.C
The Baton next stop will be at the Emigrants statue in Helmsdale where the Caithness and Sutherland Area Leader Councillor Deirdre Mackay and Dr Monica Main, the Lord Lieutenant will welcome it to Sutherland. The baton will arrive in Brora at 13.15pm where 6 baton bearers will be waiting to take it through the village to a special gala at School Park. The local community have arranged for a pipe band, cheerleading and lots of fun activities for everyone to enjoy marking the baton’s visit to Brora.
At 14.30pm the baton will visit the all-weather pitch in Golspie before a stop at Seaforth House where the local Feis will be entertaining the residents and members of the public. The relay then starts from here at 14.50 and the baton will be carried along Main Street with the Sutherland Schools Pipe Band band playing and a local cheer leading group performing. A mixture of community activities will also be taking place in the park opposite the old police station.
Tain is the next town on the route with the baton due to arrive in the Royal Burgh at 16.07 and 10 baton bearers will be ready to take it from the outskirts right along the High Street and up to the tennis courts. On the High Street Tain Pipe Band will be performing and a series of sports and music events will take place at Tain Tennis Club between 4-6pm.
The final stop before Dingwall will be in Alness where at 17.04pm the Baton Relay will visit Alness Academy Playing Fields where young people will be taking part in community events supported by High Life Highland staff. At 17.34 the relay will start from here and follow a route down Alness High Street to just past the roundabout leading back onto the A9 trunk road.
Hundreds of people will be eagerly waiting for the Baton in Dingwall as a special Highland Celebration event in Jubilee Park will be reaching a climax. The free family show featuring live music, dancing, singing and a spectacular performance by the Commonwealth Youth Circus starts at 5pm and the Baton will be carried onto the stage at 6.45pm.
Before arriving on stage, Baton Bearers will be ready at 6.20pm on the outskirts of Dingwall to carry it around the town, down the High Street and over the railway bridge to Jubilee Park. To mark the occasion Dingwall shop keepers have decorated their windows featuring countries of the Commonwealth and from 2pm onwards High Life Highland will be running a special Commonwealth sporting celebration at Dingwall Leisure Centre for young people to come along to.
The finale of the day will be when the Baton is raised on stage during the Highland Celebration. Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Jimmy Gray will be there to give the official address. He said: “Next Friday is the Highland’s full day for hosting the baton and for most of us it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the baton first hand. I hope local people will line the streets and cheer it on as it makes it’s way from Caithness to Dingwall. For each baton bearer it’s also a very special day and we want to show our appreciation of their efforts by supporting them as they proudly carry the baton across the Highlands.
Driver are advised that temporary traffic restrictions will be in place on Friday 11 July in all communities the baton relay passes and traffic congestion will occur on the lead up to the baton’s arrival. Police will be on hand to give access to vehicles but everyone is asked to allow extra time for their journey or avoid the times of the convoy if at all possible. In Dingwall parking will be limited but from 4pm to 8pm a free park and ride shuttle service will be operating from the Dingwall Auction Market to Jubilee Park and people coming to the town are advised to use this service.
At 8.30am on Saturday 12 July the Provost of Inverness will be at Inverness Castle to send the baton on its way to Fort William with stops in Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Spean Bridge and Fort William where it will be officially handed over to Argyll and Bute Council.
After leaving Inverness Castle baton bearers will take the baton past Ness Bank Church, over Ness Bridge along past the Cathedral and around the Bught Park to arrive at Inverness Leisure for a 45 minute stop. Here the relay team will meet young people training at Queens Park and taking part in activities organised by Inverness Leisure.
The next stop as the convoy heads south along the A82 will be Drumnadrochit at 10.29am with 10 baton bearers ready to lead the relay through the village with a visit to Glenurquhart Shinty Club Park at 10.53am where a children’s shinty match will be underway. After an iconic photo at Urquhart Castle the convoy will continue on to Fort Augustus. After a lunch break the Baton will set off at 1pm from the village hall where children will be enjoying storytelling sessions and various activities and then be carried by 10 baton bearers to the outskirts of the village. After a media photo opportunity at the Commando Memorial the next stop will be at Spean Bridge where the first of 5 baton bearers will set off from the welcome sign at 1.40pm and the baton will make its way through the village.
The Baton’s final stop on its Highland journey will be Fort William. At 4.15pm it will be taken by 10 baton bearers from the train station across the Parade and up the High Street to the West End roundabout before following the A82 back to Lochaber Leisure Centre at 4.45pm. At the Leisure Centre High Life Highland will be running a triathlon activity day as part of its summer events programme and everyone taking part will be able to watch a short ceremony as Councillor Bren Gormley does the official handover to Argyll and Bute Council.
Drivers should be aware that temporary parking and stopping restrictions will be in place along the whole of the route before the relay arrives until it has passed and anyone using the A82 trunk road on Saturday 12 July is asked to allow extra time for their journey and be aware that traffic will be congested at times during the day.