Highlands & Islands

Olympic torch relay, RockNess, UCI World Cup and Curtis Cup wrap up

Crowds at RockNess
Image caption Crowds at the RockNess music festival at Dores near Loch Ness

The Highlands and Islands are winding down after four days of events that have drawn tens of thousands of people.

Police estimated that almost 50,000 turned out to see the Olympic flame on its journey from Lochaber to Inverness on Saturday.

Hundreds more have attended the relay in Lewis in the Western Isles .

Between Friday and Sunday, thousands were at RockNess at Dores, golf's Curtis Cup at Nairn and the Mountain Bike World Cup near Fort William.

Drew Hendry, leader of Highland Council, said the events had been a great advert for the Highlands.

He said: "All the events have shown that the Highlands are the 'go to' destination for people who want to have fun.

"I think the fact that these very large well attended events roughly at the same time show that we have got the capacity here to handle just about anything."

The busy four days started with the opening of the Curtis Cup women's golf competition at Nairn Golf Club.

Contested by teams representing the Great Britain and Ireland and US it finished on Sunday, with the home team victorious .

Friday also saw the first night of the RockNess music festival close to the shores of Loch Ness.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 people attended over three days to see acts such as Ed Sheeran and Biffy Clyro.

During the festival, Alex Herriot, 19, from Portobello, collapsed and later died at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Police said he was thought to have taken drugs.

Northern Constabulary said two other people, a 19-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, were also being treated after taking so-called "legal highs".

RockNess organiser Jim King said festival staff worked closely with the police in an effort to lessen any risks to festival goers' safety.

He said: "Over the last number of many years we have been successful, which makes it even more heart-breaking when something happens."

Image caption Riders competing in the 4X at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Over Saturday and Sunday, about 20,000 people turned out for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Aonach Mor, near Fort William.

The men's downhill final was won Aaron Gwin, from the USA, and the women's by Emmeline Ragot, from France.

The Olympic flame was carried to both the world cup and RockNess on Saturday.

Large crowds gathered in the towns and villages the torch relay passed through on its way to Inverness, where about 39,000 people turned out to see the flame.

The city has a population of about 57,000.

Ch Insp Colin Gough said the numbers of people far exceeded Northern Constabulary's expectations.

He said: "The relay passed without incident and our thanks go to the well natured crowds for turning out in such huge numbers."

Neil Gillies, Highland Council's director of transport, environmental and community services, added: "What a fantastic day for the Highlands."

Hundreds of people gathered earlier to see the flame leave Inverness for Aviemore on the relay's journey to Aberdeen .

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