Coun­try Mouse

Wa­ter, wa­ter ev­ery­where

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

IN 1962, the North of Scot­land Hy­dro­Elec­tric Board built a vast dam, ex­tend­ing Loch Monar by some six miles and flood­ing the west­ern end of Glen Strath­far­rar. The na­tive pop­u­la­tion had long since dis­persed, but now the al­lu­vial flats of Strath­more were sub­merged, along with two lodges and a shep­herd’s house, and one of the last un­spoilt In­ver­ness-shire glens— im­mor­talised in Iain Thom­son’s lyri­cal book Iso­la­tion Shep­herd—was trans­formed.

Last month, as Eng­land swel­tered, I set off on foot to stay at one of the two still hab­it­able houses that stand in the shadow of Ri­ab­hachan at the loch’s far end. Bat­tered by gale-driven hail­stones, I crossed the wrong hill and got lost in the mist, ar­riv­ing hours af­ter I was ex­pected and drenched to the bone. What alarmed me more, how­ever, was the sight of the house in its new set­ting: where the loch had been, with a moor­ing for boats, was now a moraine of black silt, bleached rocks and gnarled, rot­ting tree stumps. Longdrowned stone walls, even a stretch of river with an iron bridge, had re-emerged.

The cause of this apoc­a­lyp­tic vi­sion? A scheme to ‘big up’ the Deanie Hy­dro fur­ther down the glen by si­phon­ing off Loch Monar. Has SSE gone power crazy? MM

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