With just a few weeks to go until the XX Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay comes ever closer to completing its epic journey around the globe. Days 25 to 27 of the relay’s Scottish tour will see the baton pass through some of Scotland’s stunning islands, traversing the Outer Hebrides before journeying around Orkney – both wonderful settings to catch a glimpse of the well-travelled baton, if you haven’t already!
Read on to find out where to see the baton and how to join in the celebrations before the Glasgow 2014 Games kick off on 23 July.
The baton will arrive in Castlebay on the Isle of Barra from Oban on Monday 7 July before hopping on the ferry to Eriskay the next morning. It’ll pass through South Uist, Benbecula, Berneray and Harris, arriving in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis on the evening of Tuesday 8 July.
Wednesday 9 July is a transition day, taking the baton from the Western Isles all the way to Orkney through Sutherland in the very north of Scotland. Catch it passing by the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae and through various Orcadian towns and villages, including Stromness and Kirkwall, on Thursday 10 July before it heads back to the mainland on Friday 11 July.
Find out where you can spot the baton with the full guide to the route, available on Glasgow2014.com.
The Outer Hebrides will be abuzz with festivities when the baton arrives on the islands this month. Look out for community events in Castlebay, South Uist and Harris before the evening’s main celebrations in Stornoway on Tuesday 8 July. Free and non-ticketed, the event will be held at Perceval Square and feature a wonderful programme of entertainment including Commonwealth Youth Circus, music from top local artists, dance and more.
In Orkney, the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall will be hosting an evening of dance, gymnastics, parkour, local music and storytelling for kids, all in honour of the baton’s arrival. Pick up free tickets from the centre and join in the fun from 6.30pm on Thursday 10 July.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
1. History – Both the Outer Hebrides and Orkney boast a long and fascinating history. Visit the Iron Age Carloway Broch on Lewis or Orkney’s famous Skara Brae, a Stone Age village uncovered by a storm in 1850.
2. Beaches – Both regions are home to unforgettably gorgeous beaches: discover the crystalline waters of Luskentyre on Harris, recently named one of Britain’s best beaches, or the pure white sands of Sanday in Orkney.
3. Birdwatching – Spot dozens of summer birds at RSPB reserves on the islands, from corncrakes and corn buntings in Balranald, North Uist to lapwings and hen harriers in Brodgar, Orkney. The Butt of Lewis is another hotspot for birdlife, as are the Seabird Cities around Marwick Head, Orkney.
4. Standing Stones – These striking monuments are amongst the most iconic relics of the regions’ mysterious past. Don’t miss the unique Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis, or Orkney’s stunning Ring of Brodgar.
5. Golfing – South Uist is home to the wonderful Askernish Golf Club, designed by Old Tom Morris and dubbed the ‘holy grail of golf’. On Orkney, enjoy a challenging round and stunning sea views at Stromness Golf Club.
6. Mountain biking – The rugged landscapes and untouched terrain of the Outer Hebrides offer endless exhilaration for mountain bikers. Get inspired with our mountain biking blog, featuring footage from Wilderness Scotland.
7. Craft trail – Orkney has provided inspiration for countless generations of artists and designers. Follow the Orkney Craft Trail to discover the chairs, jewellery, pottery, painting and other arts and crafts produced on the islands.
Need more ideas? Find more things to see and do in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, or get inspiration for great days out and trips with our itineraries. Check back soon to keep up-to-date with the baton’s exciting journey, and share your photos using #batonrelay as it makes its way around Scotland!