Two well-known ploughmen from Fife and Caithness have made their journey to Latvia for the 68th World Ploughing Championships.
The finale event will see conventional qualifier Willie Grieve from Cupar and reversible competitor James Tait from Thurso compete in next weekend’s two-day competition.
Fifty ploughmen from all over the globe will take to the stubble and grass fields to plough their way for the top titles, with 25 participants ploughing in both the conventional and reversible classes.
The two tractors and ploughs were first to leave for Latvia and were loaded last Friday, before sailing from Hull to Rotterdam on Monday with haulier W and S McCord from Perth.
Willie and James flew yesterday from Newcastle with their support team to include coach and Scottish judge Andrew Mitchell Snr from Forfar, Scottish Ploughing Championships chairman and World board member Derek MacIver from the Black Isle, as well as James’ wife Christine and Derek’s partner Rosie Sutherland.
This is agricultural contractor Willie’s first time competing at the Worlds but he has been ploughing competitively for 47 years, being runner-up in the Scottish Championships twice.
Willie, who is a former chair of the Highlands of Fife Ploughing Association, said: “It’s a real honour to be going to represent Scotland in the World Ploughing Championships and I am very humbled and indebted to the organisations and businesses for the support and sponsorship.
“A special thanks must go to the Highlands of Fife Ploughing Association, founded by my great-grandfather, who raised £5,500 in a ploughing marathon earlier this year.”
James, who has been tractor man for the past 47 years at the Pottinger family’s Greenland Mains, Thurso, is also heading to the Worlds for the first time.
He developed an interest in ploughing from an early age but it wasn’t until around 1990 when he started ploughing competitively.
Over the years, he has scooped various wins and has always come close to the top of the reversible class which has meant representing Scotland at the European Championships on three separate occasions.
In October 2022, when the Scottish Ploughing Championships was held in Caithness, he secured first place in his class.
The match was held over two days and at the same time, James was taking part in the Five Nations Challenge – an event that sees ploughmen from Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – compete for the Five Nations Trophy, which he went on to win.
James said: “I am looking forward to the challenge although expect competition to be stiff considering the best ploughmen from countries all over the world will be taking part.
“Although I am representing Scotland, I am Caithness born and bred and don’t believe anyone from the area has qualified for this event before. I feel grateful to have been given this opportunity and thank everyone for the support. I intend to do my absolute best on the day.”