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23 Aug 2021

Experimental theatre comes to Ben Lomond

Written by Rory Weller
Three people stand on a grassy hillside overlooking Loch Lomond. The man on the left holds an oval mirror, which shows the reflection of the man in the middle, holding the lapels of his tweed jacket. The lady on the right holds a circular mirror to show a reflection of her face.
The Famous Scots Fund leaflet, c1970s
On Sunday 26 September, an experimental theatre production, Ùrlar, will present a ‘kaleidoscopic vision of place’ along the Ardess Hidden History Trail at Ben Lomond.

We have commissioned this new piece to be inspired by one of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes. It will combine music, dance and spoken word in a new theatrical production that draws on the history of this special place. In the Great Highland Bagpipe tradition of pibroch (a classical form of bagpipe music), the ùrlar is the ‘main theme’ upon which the tune builds layers of variation.


Developed by Glasgow-based artist and producer Guy Veale, who also recently created immersive sound designs for House of Dun near Montrose, Ùrlar will take audiences on a journey along the Ardess Hidden History Trail on the lower slopes of Ben Lomond, a rich archaeological heritage site.

Guy says: ‘Ùrlar will be an outward and inward journey, a kaleidoscopic vision of place, a sounding of resonant notes echoing through time. People and place have been entangled at Ardess for centuries, and Ùrlar will celebrate the rhythm of that relationship: the ebb and flow of seasons and cultures, the past and future of farming and recreation, and the cycle of habitats and inhabitants – lost and restored.’

A man in a tweed jacket and cloth hat stands on a grassy hillside, looking at the camera and holding his jacket lapels. Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills can be seen in the background.
An Ùrlar storyteller at Ben Lomond

Small audience groups will be guided and led at a gentle pace throughout the 90-minute experience. Participants can expect to see and hear the landscape in a completely new way, guided by professional storytellers along a specially curated trail. Allow your imaginations to be fired by a cast of magical characters in strikingly designed costumes, all inspired by the natural and cultural history of this spectacular corner of Scotland.

Key stations along the route will be brought to life, in harmony with the natural environment. There’ll also be some subtle additions to nature’s own amazing soundscape – a recurring ‘sonic beacon’ will be joined by multiple instruments and voices, and carried on the wind to activate the entire site.

“With this event, we seek to engage with new audiences, make new connections between natural and cultural heritage, and provide visitors with a novel and thought-provoking experience.”
Samuel Gallacher
Operations Manager, Ben Lomond

Samuel Gallacher adds: ‘We hope to learn how natural heritage properties such as Ben Lomond may function as live performance venues while supporting the mission of the National Trust for Scotland as our national conservation charity.’

  • Date: Sunday 26 September, with time slots every 30 minutes from 12–5.30pm
  • Price: £12
  • The event involves a gentle, 90-minute guided walk along the Ardess Hidden History Trail.
  • Please note that there are stepping stones and narrow paths that require care.
  • Please bring waterproof clothing and appropriate footwear.
  • Dedicated parking will be provided for ticket holders.

Book your ticket now