Water, water everywhere
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