THE GREAT GUISACHAN GATHERING - 29th and 30th July 2006

(Article reproduced with kind permission of Author, Anne Weeks & Dog World)
(Photos by kind permission of Lynn Kipps)

Golden Gathering

188 Golden Retrievers and 347 Golden Enthusiasts pictured at the rear of the remains of Guisachan House. This beat the record set by the South Australian Golden Retriever Club of the most Goldens captured in one photograph.

Many readers will be familiar with the name of Guisachan but, for those who are not, it was the Highland Estate of Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, later to become Lord Tweedmouth. The estate is about 40 miles west of Inverness but, unfortunately, the mansion is now derelict.


Guisachan House in 1897

It was there that he originated the breeding programme of the yellow retriever, which developed into the golden retriever as we know it today, so Guisachan can be regarded as the breed's ancestral home.
shooting party

Shooting party at Guisachan
in the early days of the breed

Guisachan House

Remains of Guisachan House nestling
in majestic countryside

Lord Tweedmouth did not like driving past the dilapidated, chimneyless tumbledown homes of his estate workers, so he demolished the cottages and about two miles distant he purpose built a lovely village called Tomich for them.

So when, over two and a half years ago, Jim Richardson, Vice Chairman of the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland, hit upon the brilliant idea of holding a Gathering at Guisachan to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Club, this area seemed very appropriate. When this suggestion was put to the Executive Committee of the Club, Jim was delighted when they agreed with his proposal to hold an action packed weekend there. The activities were to take place over two
main entrance

What was the main entrance of Guisachan House

days, commencing with a fun afternoon, followed by a dinner in the evening, followed next day by an Open Show to be held in the grounds of the nearby Tomich Hotel.

The Committee realised that an enormous task lay ahead of them. It is difficult enough to organise a big event when it is on your doorstep, but when everyone lives a good distance away the logistics are mind boggling, coupled with the fact that the country roads prohibit high speed travel. As soon as news of this event was made public, people became so enthusiastic that at least two couples made immediate arrangements, booking hotel accomodation two years in advance, Mr and Mrs Coombes (Arangolds) from as far away as New Zealand and Dr and Mrs Ramsay (Robbols) from closer to home in Paisley.

Having been to Guisachan before on the glorious 12th in 1994 and then attended the GRCS celebrations in July 2001 and had a thoroughly good time, I just had to be there for this extra special occasion. On July 21st and 22nd, my daughter Fiona and I had attended the BD&C GRC Symposium in Wiltshire. Valerie Foss covered this marvellous event in an excellent article in Dog World of 17/8/06. Being gluttons for punishment, driving from one end of the country to the other, we then set off five days later for Scotland with our respective husbands. We knew this would be a complete contrast to the previous weekend, but were excited at the prospect.

The Gathering begins

The Gathering begins with GRCS supporting the entry at the Highland Open Show at Dingwall Market on the Saturday morning. Over 150 Dogs were entered under Australian judge Barbara Moore.

On July 29th, prior to the commencement of the Gathering, the Highland Canine Association had organised an All Breeds Open Show at Dingwall. Their Committee must have been absolutely delighted with their huge entry of Golden Retrievers. Being so far North their entry is usually quite small but Barbara Moore (Australia) had a fantastic turnout, with over 143 dogs of this breed. Knowing everyone was keen to get to Guisachan she got through her entry in an extremely efficient manner which enabled everyone to arrive in time for the start of the proceedings. We could tell by the number of cars passing the cottage in which we were staying that the GRCS event was going to be popular and when we arrived the parking area was nearly full.

Judge assesses one of her well filled classes.

The Gathering begins

Barbara with her best Dog who went Best of Breed and her Best Bitch.

Cars begin to arrive at Guisachan for the main Gathering on Saturday afternoon.

Getting into the picnic mood.

The weather had been fine during the morning but, as the activities started, down came the rain and a colourful array of brollies and anoraks appeared. Jim with his loud hailer was encouraging everyone to 'have a go' at Haggis Hurling. He seemed unaware of the downpour for he sported a straw hat and a Guisachan Gathering T-shirt, no doubt expecting sunshine.

Jim Richardson shows off his T shirt.

Haggis Hurling is an International sport. One of the Australian visitors has first go.

Susan Webster hurling with great style.

Initially, competitors appeared reluctant to join in but, soon, both men and women were queueing to participate, standing on an upturned half barrel and showed their skill and strength. There were cheers when a long distance hurl was made and groans of disappointment when it fell short.

Just a passing shower!

A native Dragon Fly measuring about 7" has never seen so many people/dogs

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