Thousands of curlers will take to the ice despite warnings
THOUSANDS of rebel curlers are expected to take to the ice at the frozen Lake of Menteith near Aberfoyle today to take part in what is being referred to as the "People's Grand Match".
The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) was forced to cancel the official Grand Match between the north and south of Scotland because of safety fears raised by the local authority and emergency services.
But news of the ban helped attract thousands of people on to the frozen lake over the weekend and sparked an internet campaign urging curlers to defy the ban and take to the ice today.
Curling enthusiast and internet campaigner Craig Stobo said: "This is an event that has been going on for hundreds of years and we can't even organise it. It renders Scotland a laughing stock. This is the sport Scotland gave the world.
"I understand that most of the rings who would have competed in the Grand Match are still planning to turn up. It is going to be like a curling flashmob."
Yesterday, curlers from teams around Scotland were testing the ice, which is now seven inches thick, in preparation for the competition, which was last staged on the Lake of Menteith in 1979 and before that in 1963.
Despite warnings from the RCCC that the ice was starting to melt rebel curlers from around the country posted messages on Twitter and Facebook saying they were preparing to travel to the People's Grand Match, also known as the Unofficial Bonspiel.
Bill Drysdale, a keen cross country skiier who lives at nearby Thornhill, said: "There is a lot of active work going on today creating more rings. I have never before seen such thick ice on the lake."
Burger vans, coffee wagons and a barbecue were in place at the side of the frozen lake, where yesterday people were skiing, skating, and riding quad bikes.
Ian Fleming, owner of the Lake of Menteith Hotel, said: "It has kept us busy. We had about 2,500 people out on the ice on Saturday and 5,000 on Sunday.
"I think a lot of people will come out just to look and to take a trip across the ice."
He said he was concerned that the ice was beginning to thaw – but said he believed curling enthusiasts would not take unnecessary risks.
Colin Grahamslaw, chief executive of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, said he was "deeply disappointed" that the match had been cancelled but added: "We can't organise the event without the support of the emergency services."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
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