Lake of Menteith Bonspiel Cancelled

Lake of Menteith Bonspeil 1979

Copyright Sea Pigeon.

One of the objections to the bi-naming of east Caithness placenames in Gaelic is that, even if a historical link to speakers of the language can be demonstrated, those offered are based on mistranslations. Such as Thurso and Wick which are named as Inbhir Theòrsa and Ùige respectively, accurately portraying the two towns as sitting at the mouth of a river but erroneously suggesting that their Norse-derived names came from the river-names and not vice versa. And the less said the better about John o’Groats being named as Taigh Iain Ghròt.

So, I wonder if it is appropriate to present the Scots Gaelic for Lake of Menteith on Flanders Moss as Loch Innis MoCholmaig. The Lake is one of only a handful of bodies of water in mainland Scotland or the Hebridean Isles not called loch, although the etymology of the Lake part has been suggested to be from Laig/ch; from the Lowland Scots for a low-place, as in Laigh Hall or Laigh Kirk.

After writing of the bastardization of anti-discrimination legislation regarding a school excursion to an outdoor activities centre by Crown Primary, Inverness, I see a proposed grand curling match (aka bonspeil) on the Lake has been cancelled due to concerns over managing health and safety legislation.

The big freeze has caused the Lake to freeze over, with ice thickness of 9″ reported, and the Royal Caledonian Curling Club had pushed for an ad hoc bonspeil for Tuesday 12 January: the first to be held on the Lake since 1979. All was not to be:

Despite reports that the lake’s ice was now more than 7 in thick, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, advised by Stirling council, police and emergency services, said it had had to cancel.

“It was just not possible to address the health and safety issues within the timescale,” said Colin Grahamslaw, the club’s chief executive.

Private games will continue, and local sightseers have been safely venturing onto the Lake. I can appreciate that emergency services are currently stretched with the nation-wide freeze, and will be wary of this untested variable (not least as two men have died after falling through ice on a Leicestershire lake).

Yet, there should be a balance between risk and hazard. I dread to think of the hazard result in ice-collapse, but the evidence should suggest the risk is low. We are able to accept the far greater risk associated with the hazard of using the roads even in the best of weather, so sometimes elfin safety (the fear of little people) should not dictate the opportunity for others to be introduced to controlled risk.

(Hat Tip – Big Rab.)


7 Responses to “Lake of Menteith Bonspiel Cancelled”

  1. bigrab Says:

    Alec, I was at the Lake today but I was fortunate because the police blocked off the road shortly after I turned of the A811. To me it is a ludicrous decision to prevent curlers and from enjoying themselves at the beauty spot.

  2. KB Player Says:

    According to the Sunday Herald thousdands of people ignored the ban, turned up and curled and played ice hocky.

  3. efrafandays Says:

    That is absolutely absurd, Rab. Did someone on your blog not say that the authories couldn’t ban spontaneous social gatherings?

    I ventured out onto Thurso River (i.e. flowing water) today. Probably shouldn’t, but I was quickly chased away by a polar bear.

  4. Tamianne Says:

    How ridiculous about the curling competition, especially when you bear in mind that the authorities don’t seem to mind much about layers of ice building up on our pavements which really is dangerous.

    I wonder how long it will be before we get those polar bears in south east England! It’s all quite exciting!

  5. efrafandays Says:

    Lanark, not far from Menteith, experienced minus 21 on Thursday night; and the railway lines have frozen, so buses have replaced trains.

    Oop here, the Altnaharra weather station recorded minus 22.3, and during the day on Thursday it was minus 10 at one point.

    As for polar bears, the answer is in the Bible. Check Job 38 32.

  6. Blair Says:

    The picture – Elvis looks remarkably young for a man celebrating his 75th birthday!

  7. Indy Says:

    It wasn’t banned. The authorities can’t ban spontanwous gatherings though they can break them up if there is a public order issue.

    In this case the organisers cancelled the event because they couldn’t get public liability insurance.

    If a lot of individuals decided to go as individuals then that’s fine. If something went wrong it would just be their tough luck. But if something goes wrong at an organised event the event organisers can be held liable which is why having insurance is a necessity.

    The reason they couldn’t get public liability insurance for the Bonspiel iwas not because of the thickness of the ice or anythimg to do with the event itself – it was because the police were not satisfied with parking arrangements. They were concerned about a traffic gridlock developing if thousands of cars turned up and the likelihood of cars being parked haphazordously and impeding access for emergency vehicles.

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