Lake of Menteith 2010 Bonspiel ©Graeme Phanco
Lake of Menteith 2010 Bonspiel ©Graeme Phanco

A bonspiel is a curling tournament (curling: two teams of four players compete by ‘throwing’ two granite curling stones each). It is traditionally held on a frozen loch (lake) and can last 2 or 3 days over a weekend. As a result of milder winters and the requirement that the ice should be at least 7 inches thick for safety reasons, these outdoor games now rarely take place. The word may be a combination of both Scots and Gaelic - ‘spiel’ is northern European (to which Scots is related) for ‘play’ or ‘game’.

The Grand Match traditionally took place between the north and the south of Scotland and has taken place on outside ice on 33 out of 38 occasions (the last official one being in 1979). Concerns about health and safety saw an unofficial version of The Grand Match take place at Lake of Menteith in January 2010. It’s not just sport – it’s a social occasion and video footage of the 2010 Lake of Menteith Bonspiel can be seen at

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