A Lewis sheepdog handler sailed home from Skye last weekend after winning the Staffin Sheepdog Trials in front of a bumper crowd.
The sun shone in Staffin as Lewisman Murdo Murray was crowned the winner of the annual event, part of a Hebridean trials circuit which takes in courses in the Western Isles and Skye over several days.
In baking hot temperatures at Elishadder last Friday the Leodhasach, who hails from Back, beat off the challenge of Staffin’s own Ian MacDonald to win day six of the circuit.
Around 300 spectators attended the event, which has grown in popularity in recent years.
About 50 dogs and their handlers from all over the UK and Ireland were among the stellar field, with Sweden’s Mosse Magnusson the trials judge. Mosse, who has competed twice in Staffin himself in 2009 and 2010, said he thoroughly enjoyed judging at Elishadder for the first time.
The relatively flat course on peat and rough grazing lies next to the old A855 single-track Staffin to Portree main road with views to the Storr, Ben Edra and Quiraing. But Mosse said it was demanding because of the outrun compared to other places.
And he admitted the heat made things doubly difficult for the handlers and their dogs.
“It is a difficult course,” said Mosse. “I like that kind of course — it is very testing. Normally it is a straight fetch for the handler. At the Staffin trials it is an L-shaped fetch so you have to have your dogs under control.”
Mosse said Murdo won after an almost faultless run with his dog Jim but some other handlers, including local organiser Ian MacDonald, had good performances but dropped points.
He added that the temperature had an impact. “I think the heat made the sheep a little twitchy — they weren’t easy,” he said.
Handlers are judged on the outrun towards the sheep, the lift, the bring, penning and shedding and spectators watched as the dogs raced against the clock.
Skye handlers Jimmy Lamont from Kensaleyre, John MacDiarmid of Eynort; and Portnalong-based Duncan MacIntyre were among the international field.
Organiser Ian MacDonald thanked everybody who had helped on the day with refreshments, stalls and raffle prizes. He said £2,341.88 had been raised so far for the Skye Cancer Care charity.
Last week sheepdog trials were also held in Waternish and in Dunvegan as part of the Hebridean circuit.
Pictured (left to right) are Staffin trials runner-up Ian MacDonald, judge Mosse Magnusson and winner Murdo Murray.
RESULTS Staffin 1 Murdo Murray (Jim), Back, Lewis; 2 Ian MacDonald (Don), Staffin, Skye; 3 Lotta Magnusson (Kate), Ardromie, Perthshire; 4 Carrol Mellin, (Mirk), England; 5 Clair Neil (Dan), England; 6 Lochlann Cohen (Dan), Ireland. 1st Local Ian MacDonald (Don), Staffin. Waternish 1 Alasdair Cameron (Jaff) ; 2 John MacKillop (Joe); 3 Murdo Murray (Jim); 4 Shirley Cropper (Danny ); 5 Billy Morrison (Nell). Dunvegan 1 Mosse Magnusson (Jim); 2 Jimmy Lamont (Craig); 3 Mosse Magnusson (Moss); 4 Billy Morrison (Nell); 5 Kenny Bremher; 6 Ian Macdonald (Don).