Thursday, 7 April 2016

Kayaks and Corbetts

Corbetts seem to the way to go for climbing hills. For the uninitiated, they are Scottish Hills between 2500 and 3000 feet high. They can be collected, in the same manner as folk go Munro bagging (that's the hills over 3000 feet), and they have some distinct advantages. They are much less frequented, often better viewpoints than their larger neighbours, and with better weather. Many of them are best visited with the aid of a bike or a kayak, adding to their interest. With this in mind I set off to paddle down Loch Ericht to climb a Corbett called Stob an Aonaich Mhoir. Loch Ericht is normally seen from the A9 at Dalwhinnie, from where it can look pretty uninviting. It's at an altitude of over 1000 feet, so a little unusual for a sea kayak.

Access is easy, and there's a pretty intimidating bit of white water if you want it. Despite its bleak appearance from the main road, it's actually a lovely loch. I meandered down the south east shore, below crags and birch woods. There were some attractive looking camping sites.

Parking my boat for a while, I climbed my hill, which had some fine views.

Then it was down to the haunted bothy of Ben Alder Cottage. A bit to my surprise, and also my relief, there were some other folk staying. I say relief, because it's a spooky place to be on your own.

I've heard one perfectly level headed outdoor person say he would never stay here again, and I'm a bit prone to hypnagogic hallucinations, which sometimes tie in with the imagination to give pretty terrifying experiences. The ghost may be of a stalker called McCook, who once lived here. There's a good article about him in the SMC journal.  I suspect it must have been a grim life here. He doesn't look too cheery in this photograph.

Fortunately the night was uneventful, and I set off for my return trip with a good tail wind and a mix of sunshine and showers.
On the way along the north west shore I passed the fantasy fairyland that is Ben Alder Lodge. Owned by a Swiss polo player called Schwarzenbach, it boasts it's own recently built cathedral. In the middle of nowhere, it even rings bells to mark the hour.

There is also this underground bunker. I waited for a while, hoping to see Thunderbird 2 emerge, but had no luck. I suspect it is actually just a garage for a two helicopter family.

The day finished with a fine blast back to the head of the loch, with even a bit of surfing to liven it up. Loch Ericht really isn't as bleak as you might think.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Iain - some really nice images here. I've stayed in Ben Alder cottage a few times but always been so knackered that a ghost would have to go some to wake me! :o)

    Kind regards