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Caithness leg is touted for Games baton

By Will Clark

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Sir Chris Hoy arrives at Buckingham Palace with the baton.
Sir Chris Hoy arrives at Buckingham Palace with the baton.

THE Queen’s Baton looks set to be coming to Caithness next summer as part of its 40 stop tour across Scotland in the run-up to next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Organisers of the event yesterday released an outline itinerary, with the baton planned to be in the Highlands on Friday, July 11 and Saturday, July 12.

With the route set to cross the Pentland Firth from Orkney on the Thursday, it is likely celebrations will be held in the far north, but locations in the Highlands have yet to be confirmed.

The places in Scotland where the baton will have stopovers have yet to be decided by the Commonwealth Games committee.

"We have only received information on Thursday that the relay will be taking place in the Highlands for two days," said a council spokesman.

"The locations of where events will take place still have to be arranged but we will be working alongside organisers and make an official announcement in due course," she said.

With the relay being held in Orkney 24 hours earlier, any events to be held to Caithness would likely be held on July 11.

Twelve months ago, the far north caught London 2012 fever when the Olympic flame came to John O’Groats, attracting over 2500 visitors to the village.

However, there was criticism from some community representatives that the Olympic torch did not come to the far north tourist hotspot.

Given the Royal family’s close connections with Caithness, landward Caithness Highland Councillor Willie Mackay would like to see the relay cover the entire county.

He suggests the baton should arrive at Scrabster harbour and go through Thurso to the Castle of Mey, which was the late Queen Mother’s long-time summer residence.

From there, he would like the baton to be carried to John O’Groats before continuing on to Wick.

"There are many iconic places in Caithness associated with the Royal family and I think they should all be incorporated as part of the relay," he said.

"After seeing the launch how Scots took over to London, I think the excitement for the Commonwealth Games has grown and by summer 2014, it will be at fever pitch. We are a sporting orientated county and with its royal connections, we must push hard for a good case that the baton goes right across Caithness."

On Wednesday, the Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth inside the baton during a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace which was then sealed for its 288-day journey through the Commonwealth nations and territories.

Six time Olympic gold medallist and double Commonwealth gold medallist Chris Hoy escorted the empty baton up the Mall to the palace. The opening ceremony will take place at Celtic Park on July 23.

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