ORGANISERS of the Cowalfest walking festival, which was due to be held from Thursday until Sunday, have cancelled the event due to Saturday’s “unprecedented” rainfall.

The rainfall led to mass flooding, landslides and damage to trails which will take time to remedy, organisers said.

The re-establishment of Cowalfest, widely recognised as one of Scotland’s biggest walking festivals, has been the best part of a year in the planning.

Organisers have decided that they will still hold a ceilidh at Innellan Village Hall this Saturday, which will feature music from ceilidh band Canned Haggis.

All bookings made so far for each of the Argyll festival’s 50-plus walks and other activities will be refunded in full.

Cowalfest chair Agnes Harvey said: “The decision to cancel the festival was a unanimous one within our committee, all of whom are volunteers and have spent hundreds of hours working on the event over the past 12 months.

“The decision takes into account the extensive damage to the Cowal landscape caused by flooding and the resulting health and safety risks to walkers and walk guides.

“Our hearts go out to those people whose homes and land have been affected by this destructive rainfall event.

“Our objective had been to put together a programme of walks and events that would encourage visitors and locals to enjoy the great outdoors across this wonderful corner of Argyll and our programme provided an excellent opportunity to achieve that.

“Bookings were on a par with past years with almost 200 having secured their places.”

Harvey added: “We would like to thank everyone who has taken an interest in the event including local and national media and reassure all those who have booked that they will receive a full refund on tickets booked.”

The first Cowalfest took place 20 years ago in 2003 and, despite a three-year hiatus due to covid, it was hoped that this year’s festival would be one of the biggest and best yet with a focus on targeted activities for families and Young Scot adventurers as well as a number of special interest walks.

Agnes concluded: “We will go ahead with the evening ceilidh as planned next Saturday at Innellan Village Hall. This will be a celebration of the past 20 years and fundraiser for the future. It is hoped that local people will support this event which could provide us with a boost as we look to the future.”

Tickets for the ceilidh are available to purchase at Purdies, Dunoon and the Lido in Innellan.