Dewsbury truck driver wins Peak District Highland Games strongman title

A truck driver from Dewsbury has scooped the prestigious title of the Peak District Highland Games champion.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 11:30 am
Dave in the gruelling Dinnie Stones event

Dave Thornton won the title at Matlock Farm Park on August 29 in front of a crowd of 2,0000.

This year’s Peak District Highland Games, in its fifth edition of the show, saw the addition of some new athletes alongside established athletes, as well as a new strongwoman category to mark the occasion.

The women were Nicky Walters (Guinness world record holder), Chloe Brennan (under 63kg bodyweight 2019 England’s strongest woman) and teenage sensation 15-year-old Millie Thornton in her first competition, aka Millie Con Carne.

Dave had an impressive showing in the caber toss

Millie is the daughter of Dave Thornton, winner of this year's Peak District Highland Games.

Nicky Walton took the overall win, Chloe in second place and Mille in third across the stone throw, caber toss, tractor pull and stone of destiny carry.

Chloe was the only woman to lift the honorary Dinnie Stones, 190kg and 160kg in each hand. An amazing achievement that set the crowd alight.

In the men’s competition the opening event saw two times former Peak District Highland Games champion Scott Mark Litchfield, from Sheffield, storm to the lead with 14 reps on the 120kg log press, chased by Jake Rideout on 13 reps and Jimmy Sharp from Hull with 12 reps.

Dave Thornton taking part in the tractor pull

With Scott looking as strong as ever, it looked like a foregone conclusion with his best events to come, but some of the new entrants and a more competitive field rewrote the script in a nail biting finale ending with the Honorary Dinnie Stones in an epic battle for first place.

Matt Cole, under 105kg bodyweight UK’s strongest man in that weight category, had a solid performance throughout the competition in his first appearance at the Peak District Highland Games, being the first athlete to smash the old record on the Dinnie Stone hold by nearly three seconds in an amazing display of strength and determination.

Matt also blitzed the field carrying the 170kg stone of destiny across 20 metres in a winning time of 9.29 seconds, earning him a podium spot in third place overall.

Ryan Martin, coming into the competition late, had a great event, winning the eight tonne tractor pull and placing second with the longest distance thrown in the caber toss – over nine metres.

Joe Bromiley, three times Liverpool’s strongest man, in his first ever appearance at the games, grappled with the events, many his first attempt at the events, placing ninth overall from 14 competitors

Another noticeable athlete was Mariusz Dacz in his first ever competition on recommendation from Wales Strongest Man, who came in fourth place with some outstanding performances, cheered on by his two-year-old son and family.

In second place in the final standings, across the six events, came the two times Peak District Highland Games champion Scott Mark Litchfield, pipped to the post on countback from a regular highland games competitor in a shock result.

Up steps Dave Thornton, who had a fantastic showing in the throwing events, clearing the largest distance with the caber at nine metres 70 and second place in the stone throw, earning himself important points going into the final event. This event would be the decider for the title.

This earned Dave and Scott a joint first position. But in a dramatic turn of events in an event Scott was expected to win and take the title, Dave recorded an incredible time of one minute 13.67 seconds on the brutal Dinnie Stones he wasn’t expected to perform that well in.

Dave blanked out the pain and not only won the event earning himself first place, but also became the winner of the Peak District Highland Games 2021 on countback and setting a new Dinnie Stone record with an unbelievable time, three seconds clear of the existing record.

Andrew Picken and Mark Anglesea, co-founders of Man Beast strongman events based in Doncaster who run the competition, said: "This competition grows year on year and with new competitors stepping up to the mark we have had a great battle witnessed by thousands of fans.

"Dave Thornton deserves all the credit he gets in a strong field of regional and national level competitors across six brutal tests of strength and Yorkshire now holds the Peak District Highland Games title.

"It was fantastic to see both father and daughter competing at this."