Highland Gathering falls victim to the weather

The continuing unseasonal weather has claimed another victim with the cancellation of the Ashbourne Highland Gathering this Sunday, July 15.

As the East Midlands was again put on Amber flood alert by the Met Office today (Tuesday) following record June rainfall, Derbyshire Dales District Council, which owns the land where the Gathering takes place every year, had no option but to call off the event.

Supported by the organising committee, the decision followed an inspection of Ashbourne Recreation Ground and Fishpond Meadows on Friday last week and again on Monday.

The Recreation Ground is waterlogged and wouldn’t be able to accommodate the heavy vehicles that usually form part of the Gathering, while the Meadows, which is used for event parking, has standing water and is unusable.

A District Council spokesperson said: “The grounds are saturated and the forecast of further rainfall will make matters worse. We work closely with the Ashbourne Highland Gathering organisers every year and know how much planning goes into the spectacle, so we are really sorry the unrelenting bad summer weather has put paid to the event in 2012.

“The organisers understand that the District Council works extremely hard to keep the Recreation Ground and Fishpond Meadows looking great all year round, and we have to protect the area for the many people and sports groups who enjoy the park on a daily basis.”

First held in 1985, the Highland Gathering was also cancelled three years ago, again because the Recreation Ground was waterlogged.

A spokesperson for the Ashbourne Highland Gathering Committee said: “We are naturally disappointed that the District Council has had to withdraw its offer to hold our event on the Recreation Ground, resulting in the cancellation of the 2012 Ashbourne Highland Gathering, but it is a decision with which we agree is in the best interests of all concerned.

“To hold the event under the prevailing conditions and taking into account that rain is forecast every day until Sunday, the potential damage to ground and the potential reduction in the quality of the event experience is not something either the District Council or the Gathering Committee would wish.”