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The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe


Postby Roger T » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:37 pm

Route description: Kinlochewe to Shenavall

Date walked: 03/11/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 300m

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The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe
Note: There are no photographs accompanying this report, for reasons which will become obvious.

I didn’t expect such a day of soul-searching. I just wanted a good long easy walk, a relaxing leg-stretcher. With the weather putting paid to my continuing manoeuvres around Beinn Dearg, I decided on a nice stroll up past the Heights of Kinlochewe and on to Loch Fada. I would come back the same way too.

What I didn’t know was that the various burns of the Heights of Kinlochewe are in the process of being harnessed for a substantial hydro power scheme. I didn’t know that what was once a modest vehicle track has been crudely widened to take all manner of trucks and machinery; that the Heights themselves are now snaked with access roads; that the landscape is now littered with the detritus of gung-ho development.

As I walked along the muddy, uninviting road from Incheril my heart sank. All around were the insignia of progress: dumps of pipes and culverts; parking lots crammed with diggers and bulldozers and storage containers; incessant and insistent signage; drums of cables; blocks of concrete components; everything ranged about on a base of mud, chippings, hastily bull-dozed rock, old bricks, hardcore, anything that would serve.

It was a miserable lunar landscape. I would have felt more connection with nature taking a tour of a Soviet bauxite mine.

Halfway up to the Heights was the first incursion into the Abhainn Bruachaig. Here was a joyful burn bulldozed, concreted, culverted, diverted and subverted. I stared down into a hole hewn out of the rock and housing a half-built concrete pill-box. Access ramps had been cut into the banks of the burn; rock had been piled high to form a cofferdam.

I walked on past half-completed junction boxes for the cabling, now buried under a back-filled quagmire. A mud-spattered red car came down the road towards me and its Slavic-faced driver gave me the thumbs up as he passed. I checked the car’s registration plate. I had never seen one like it: Uzbekistan perhaps. It seemed appropriate: wrecking labour brought in from god knows where to do a job and move on. Professional re-landscapers, here today, gone tomorrow.

The once-pretty cottages at the head of the glen now had the look of the corporate headquarters of an outback mining concern. Utilities and 4x4’s were ranged around, along with more containers, oil tanks, generators and the inevitable piles of black plastic piping. A large noticeboard gave all the ‘Site Information’.

I turned off to start the ascent of the Gleann na Muice, glad to see the back of all this mayhem, but my heart fell for a second time. The little track was now a continuation of the wide road, cut willy-nilly through the hillside. I followed its gyrations, eventually down and over the Abhainn Gleann na Muice.

Alongside the old ford over the burn there was now a wide wooden bridge. The road ascended to another industrial dumping ground, then continued up the glen. I thought things could not get worse, but I was wrong. A little way down the slope from the road was now a second, parallel road. It had been carved out to give working space for the diggers making the trenches for the cabling. Here was a dual carriageway heading up the Gleann na Muice; more dualling than on the A9.

It was all almost unbearable to look at. The lower part of the Gleann na Muice, the Glen of the Pig, had become a Pig of a Glen.

Further up I reached the construction under way to harness the burn. The Abhainn Gleann na Muice is a modest stream in a pleasant glen. Here it was, about to be milked for subsidies and profit, its glen ravaged and ravished.

A notice board beside the track described the project. In smooth corporate-speak it gave soothing platitudes about the lack of impact on the burns and their surrounds. It admitted that there would be ‘some disturbance’ and that during construction ‘this can appear significant’. The schemes would allegedly produce electricity for 2,500 homes.

After exactly one hour and thirty-two minutes of the most depressing walking I can ever remember, I finally cleared the destruction. My heart lifted to be back in a pristine landscape, but my day had changed beyond measure.
For a start, I knew now that instead of returning this way, I would complete the full circuit, returning to Incheril via the Gleann Bianasdail. This would mean negotiating the headwaters of the Abhainn an Fhasaigh. I had not come prepared for a possibly dangerous fording, but I would gladly have swum the length of Loch Fada stark naked to avoid having to run that gauntlet again. Nothing would induce me back.

More importantly than that, what I had witnessed had set off a major debate in my head. For the remaining five hours of my walk the debate raged on: head versus heart; reason versus emotion. My legs ate up the miles as the arguments tipped one way and then the other. For much of the time I was in a kind of trance as orators from each camp expounded insistently in my inner chamber.

Little external events lifted my day: a male stonechat watching me from the walls of a ruined stone hut; a snipe darting off from near Loch Fada; a female black grouse scolding me with a ‘Grrrrrrrr. Kekekekek. Grrrrrrrrr. Kekekek.’

From here on the reading will get heavier, and possibly heretical. If you don’t have the stomach for that, best leave now. If you do stay with me, then thank you, and good luck.

My starting point was an attempt to rationalise and defuse the stabs of anger and anguish that had so ruined my morning. I am not given to anger. It is a kind of madness; a pathology of the mind. But there I was, feeling, from time to time, indubitably angry, until reason stepped in and attempted to smother the emotion.

I was of course well aware that I was seeing the construction works at a bad moment. That there would be a clear up, and regrowth, and the gradual absorption of the infrastructure into the landscape. But I knew too that it would never be the same. The scarring would be there for my lifetime, both on the hills and in my mind.

My internal debate centred on a very simple question: Why should I care? Why should we care? Is there any rational reason to care to the point of anger?

At first sight such questions may seem outrageous. The default position is of course one of intense, deep-felt caring for the wilderness we love. We love it, we need it, and we want to preserve it. For ourselves, for future generations; out of principle as much as anything else. This is a given, the Holy Writ of the outdoor community. How could that caring possibly be questioned?

My rational self posed the first counter-argument, and a very severe argument it was: the caring may make you feel good, but it serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Rational analysis would indicate that your caring, even if translated to the most vigorous action, will never achieve anything of lasting importance.

Let’s consider first the ‘preserving what we have for our children and grandchildren to enjoy’ argument. It sounds so clear and simple, but it falls down at almost every level. Firstly, how many generations are we really talking about here? Two? Twenty? Two Hundred? Two Thousand? Two hundred thousand? Are we actually going to hold back the tide of anthropocentric expansion, not just for ten or twenty years, but for a thousand, or ten thousand, or a million years?

The fact is that nothing is ever preserved for long. Each generation sets its own line of demarcation, based usually on the status quo of that generation’s younger years. I tend to see the ‘natural world as I would like it to remain’ as the world of my youth, the world of the fifties. Each generation then does its best to hold things within its own inherited line. But of course necessity and realpolitik and compromise mean that the line is always breached, always pushed back. That pushed back line then becomes the reference point for the next generation, and so on. So there is no absolute; the target is always in motion. This then begs the question as to whether future generations will know or care about the things that concern us now. They will come into the world at a different starting point. For them that will be the new norm. They will not necessarily feel the loss that we impute to them.

I thought about this as I reached the shore of Loch Fada. Here was a kind of Eden: crystalline waters lapping immaculate sandstone shingle; the loch stretching to infinity between the looming masses of brooding mountains.

Then I saw the future. I saw a dual carriageway, a real one this time, powering up the Gleann na Muice, complete with roundabouts, Aberdeen ring road style. Ranged along the shore were all the trappings of human pleasure-seeking: restaurants, bars, jetties, car parks, hotels, maybe a casino or two. I saw the Scottish water-skiing championships powering around Loch Fada, cruise boats coming and going.

It seems an inconceivable dystopian vision. But the inconceivable has a habit of becoming reality, firstly as a risqué breaching of the line, then as the new norm, then as the mundane. Who could say for sure that in a hundred or two hundred years’ time this will not be the reality? It has already happened to a million Edens around the planet. It will be inched towards as each generation resets its own line of demarcation. Our line has been breached, just ever so slightly, by the Heights of Kinlochewe hydro scheme. The line protecting Loch Fada has been redrawn.

A voice piped up in opposition. It pointed out the beneficial legacies of the true carers – the John Muirs, the Aldo Leopolds, the promoters of National Trust land, the battlers against corporate intrusion of the wilderness, and so on. It asked whether the rationalist was so cynical as to dismiss all that effort as ultimately worthless. It was a good point. I knew that time and again I felt a kind of relief, a greater sense of ease, when walking in the National Parks, knowing that here at least was a measure of protection. I sensed too that the rights of access to private land, so hard fought for, exercised a constraint on the more rapacious estate owners. It was impossible to deny that for my lifetime anyway things were better through the efforts of the carers.

After stopping for lunch I managed to ford the largely submerged stepping stones at the head of the Abhainn an Fhasaigh with only a minor wetting of my boots (my technique: socks off, boots back on, trousers rolled up, gaiters on), and set off upwards along the Gleann Bianasdail. The arguments still resounded in my head.

The rationalist accused the sentimentalist of having no meaningful concept of time. ‘You want to preserve this landscape,’ he said, ‘but this landscape has only just arrived, and it will soon be gone anyway.’ He was right. Where I now walked was once open ocean. Then the land arrived and has since been through a thousand transformations. Mountains have come and gone. If I had stood here on the ice cap ten thousand years ago would I have been so keen on preservation? In a relatively short space of time – a million years maybe, the likes of Slioch will be washed back down to the sea. The texture of the earth is dynamic, ever-moving. Our problem is that our modes of perception are too constrained to apprehend this. We may know it intellectually, but its true comprehension is beyond our grasp. And so we reduce everything to the immediate and the short-term; scales of measurement which are next to irrelevant in the mind-numbing expanse of geological time. At some point in the not-so-distant future the whole of the Anthropocene will be no more than the briefest dark flicker on the retina of eternity.

The rationalist went on, in that relentless way he has. ‘It is no more than stupidity, or vanity, or hubris, or all three,’ he said, ‘to suppose that you can change the inevitable course of causality.’ Every chain of action has to be played out until its endpoint, bitter or otherwise. What we are witnessing is the inexorable progression of anthropocentric need. We may rail at the drivers of that need – over-population, the neo-classical mantra of endless growth, absurd consumerism, mindless pleasure-seeking and so on – but we are all to a lesser or greater degree party to the problem. One cannot function in human society and not be. Ultimately, what will happen will happen. A few hardy souls will stand up and try to stem the flow. They will have their successes here and there, but in the longer term the victories will never be anything but Pyrrhic.

By now I was halfway along the Gleann Bianasdail, with the Abhainn an Fhasaigh rushing noisily along its foot. My legs were holding up well, driven on by the ferment in my head.

I tried to frame the rational arguments in a different way. Within thirty years at most I will be dead. What goes on in this place would then be no concern of mine. Similarly, my children and grandchildren and their children and so on will also be dead and gone in a relatively short period after that. That being the case, does it make any sense to allow anger or anguish, over what is inevitable, to poison a brief time of living?

I delved deep into my heart and realised that my resistance to not caring was largely one of guilt. Not to care smacks of indifference; of a lack of feeling. The rational arguments seemed only a hair’s breadth from some form of nihilism. I pondered on this. Is it part of the human psyche to prefer pointless emotion over cool realism? Was there too an element of possessiveness in this? I love these mountains, this landscape, and so any assault on their beauty is felt as a kind of personal affront.

Now I was getting close to Loch Maree, and the Abhainn an Fhasaigh was positively thundering down its gorge. Jesus! There was enough flow here to power ten or twenty thousand homes! Would it be only a matter of time before this too was harnessed? Will there one day be all the industrial paraphernalia and despoliation here too, and another access road all the way from Incheril?

From a wider viewpoint, it seems there can be no escape. The power will be needed; if not from here then from somewhere else. If not from hydro then from wind or tide or coal or solar or nuclear or whatever; every form of generation throwing up its own specific bogies. One small piece of paradise can only be protected at the expense of another. And as the attrition continues, tiny increment by tiny increment, each one, taken individually, just within the bounds of acceptability, new norms will be constantly created.

I crossed the bridge over the Abhainn an Fhasaigh and started the final haul along the shore of Loch Maree and back to Incheril. My legs were starting to tire a little, but I knew that I would eat up the final section with ease. I had felt curiously energised all day, both physically and mentally.

Somehow I felt that I had pushed a little deeper into the intractable problem of constant human expansion. I had become a little more sanguine and accepting. I did not much like what I saw, but I had reduced it to its true proportions within the bigger scheme of things.

One day this expansion will inevitably end. Nonlinearity will bring down the whole shaky anthropocentric edifice and re-establish an equilibrium. In all probability man will go the way of all species. Whether that is in a hundred years’ time, or a hundred thousand , or a hundred million, is of course impossible to say.

And what of the Heights of Kinlochewe, and the Gleann na Muice, and Loch Fada? I realised that they were no more than provisional arrangements of matter; somehow beautiful to a caring human heart, but ultimately transient. Their substance will dissolve and dissipate. One day there will be new mountains and new lochs and new glens with dancing burns.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby gaffr » Thu Nov 03, 2016 7:34 pm

Hello,
Just over fifty years ago, on a wet day, we went out by Bianasdail to reach our first taste of the Fisherfield/Whitbread hills. :) A small terrier joined us on the walk but the burn crossing at the loch did not appeal to the dog....I assume that he returned safely home. We came back by the Heights of Kinlochewe. The day felt like a very reasonable and enjoyable adventure and apart from the wee dog did not see another soul all day.
It is strange that the well paid 'keepers of the countryside' have remained quiet about this project....maybe I have missed some words about this.....all too late now after the land churning machines have obviously been busy for a bit.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Nov 03, 2016 7:39 pm

I can't really work out whether you were tranquil or depressed at the end of your ruminations!

You seem to be seeking an answer to your basic question - why should I care? – at a very universal level.

I would question whether this really makes too much sense, for all the reasons you give. All our rationalizations and explanations for things are extremely limited, limited ultimately to what we can “understand”. But our understanding is completely bounded by our extremely limited experience – we don’t know or understand what time is, what “stuff” is, what extension is, what consciousness is, etc. etc. - and I would argue that we never will know in any kind of ultimate ontological sense. Most attempts to explain big things end up in what I call “so just” cul-de-sacs (when they asked for the nth time “But why, daddy, why?” I used to answer my kids, “it’s sojustsojustsojustsojustso….”).

But more positively, there are so many things that we know we like or want to do without having to find some cosmological reason for doing so. Dawn in the mountains, music, family, etc. etc.

And it’s natural for us to want our kids and friends to be able to enjoy and experience the pleasure in things that we enjoy and experience pleasure in. Do we need a cosmological reason for this desire to share? I don’t think so (although I was heading off down that route in my teens :( ). To me it is absolutely natural not to want the world to go to hell and a handcart, even when I’m dead (and I wouldn't agree with your thought that this is ultimately a selfish emotion). There may be no ultimately rational reason for this, but I’m quite happy to base my thinking and actions on this philosophically arbitrary position.

Of course the lack of a definitive fixed moral framework makes for difficult decision making, but isn’t this the case with pretty well all the big questions? If one can’t refer to some ultimate source of all knowledge, then one has to form one’s own views – on everything from hydro and wind turbine schemes in the highlands, to health provision, to … well, everything! And in each case one has to try to draw a balance between the counterposed arguments. And I guess one argues and supports one’s case as best one can, but if others take a different view, and society takes a different route, one tries not to let it poison one’s life.

I must say that in relation to the Highlands, I’ve often thought that someone coming back from the iron age - when I understand the destruction of the forests started - and looking out from one of munroes across the Highlands might think that subsequent generations have visited the most horrible desecration upon a once beautiful landscape…

I just think that you do what you can in your own brief span to get the balance right… I wouldn’t be happy accepting wind turbines in Glen Affric, just because they’re only going to be there for an infinitesimally small blip of time.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Sgurr » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:21 pm

Last went up there to climb Beinn na Ramh in 2013

It was a lovely place, and we saw a pair of eagles on our return. I found an outline of (I think) the planning application
https://www.sepa.org.uk/media/162791/1137094_supporting_info_and_non_technical_summary.pdf

I don't suppose notice of it got much further than Wester Ross. I notice that one of the reasons for development is "allowing a useful income stream to the landowner thereby diversifying the activities on the estate." The Estate is Letterewe, Heights of Kinlochewe and Tournaig and is registered to an anonymous company in the Dutch Antilles, so I doubt if they particularly want to have the PR of being "Keepers of the Countryside"
Where are the W.H. Murrays of our time ? At least he managed to stop them damming Glen Nevis in the post-war dash for hydro.


As it was in 2013
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Sunset tripper » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:46 am

A great piece and well written.
These run of river hydro schemes are appearing every where along with the windfarms and unfortunately not enough people care for there to be any real impact on their proliferation. I came across several last year just by chance. Beinn Chabhair above Beinglas farm campsite has a new road high above the falls ploughing towards the foot of the hill. Some folk complain about the boggy path to Beinn Chabhair well soon they will have a road to walk along.

The big problem in the world today is over population. If you counted all the folk in London (several million) that is how many extra people there are on the planet every month counting all the births and deaths. David Attenborough talked about this problem several years ago but was widely ignored because people don't like to be told they should have less kids.

Have a look at this.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

In the great scheme of things I don't suppose it really matters. I guess all these hydro schemes and windfarms will be reclaimed by nature eventually along with the great cities of the world.

I'm quite depressed now think I will go back to bed :D
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby BobMcBob » Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:16 am

Really well written and interesting, fascinating to follow your eloquent thought process.

For myself I think I have rationalised it in my head in a slightly different way. I'm all for renewable energy and in fact I prefer small scale schemes like these, there are several in North Wales and you wouldn't know they were there until you're on top of them. My anger, when I feel it, stems from the lack of care and respect for the environment - especially amnoying in an "environmentally friendly" scheme - exhibited during the construction and with many elements of the infrastructure. To put it in a pithy phrase - I don't mind them being built, I just wish they'd do it tidily.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Skyelines » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:52 pm

Interesting and thought provoking.

If we need to accept the increased incursion of built structures into our "wild" areas then perhaps we need to have some new planning laws.
It seems to me that the ones we have at the moment were designed for buildings in urban environments and deal exclusively with the structure itself and the related outcomes after its completion. The damage to ground in their construction is usually covered over by more man-made material or are easily disguised with a bit of turf.

However constructions in the wilds are a different matter and the planning requirements and controls are inadequate. While the outcomes resulting from the structure may be considered in the planning application there is no control over the process of construction. Environment impact assessments deal with the end product and never seem to address the process to reach that end.

Instead of the current lip service to the idea of environmental protection there should be as part of any planning application a plan of operations for the construction process that states the measures to be taken to minimise damage to the environment and reinstatement of the original conditions that is legally binding and has penalties for failures to comply. This should be backed up by a set of minimum standards written into planning law.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Roger T » Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:36 pm

Thanks to everyone for the unexpected replies - the piece was written quickly and mainly for my own benefit, in an attempt to try to capture the various thought processes that had absorbed me for pretty much the whole day - so I didn't expect much interest.

Thanks in particular to Alteknacker for his long and thoughtful reply. We will probably have to agree to disagree on a few points. Personally I find it is the 'universal' view that brings the greatest consolation. The planet as we know it and perhaps would like it to be IS going to hell in a handcart. It would be mind-numbingly depressing to think that anthropocentric damage were to have any real permanence; that it would define this world forever. But the passage of geological time and the natural cycles of dissolution, entropy, decay, followed by rebirth, renewal, biological reinvention and so on, will create another world, no doubt quite unlike this one, but perhaps back in some sort of equilibrium.

And no, I did not end the day with a neat resolution of the problem that put my mind at rest. I perhaps saw things a little more clearly, but probably like most of us, I accept that I have to live permanently with a kind of internal war between reason and emotion; between idealism and pragmatism; between revolt and acceptance.

I was fascinated and somehow not surprised to learn that the estate in question is owned by an offshore company. That pretty much says it all. I have noticed lately too that there is a lot of similar activity going on on the Coulin estate, both at the Coulags end and the Glen Torridon end. The landowners are obviously onto something profitable here.

I agree that renewables are to be preferred, and actually I don't mind the small hydro schemes too much as far as their impact on the burns themselves are concerned. It's the access roads that seem to create the most lasting damage and the most permanent eyesores. They totally alter the nature and feel of a landscape. It maybe doesn't matter so much in forested land, but on the balder landscapes of Wester Ross they destroy all sense of wildness.

And clearly the root of the problem is overpopulation (as pointed out in Ben Dolphin's excellent article on the Sixth Extinction, on this site). And in nature all excess populations are eventually re-balanced in some way. Fortunately I won't be around to witness whatever ugly nonlinearity, or even multiple nonlinearities, intervene to curtail the anthropocentric excess.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby BobMcBob » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:41 pm

Roger T wrote:I was fascinated and somehow not surprised to learn that the estate in question is owned by an offshore company. That pretty much says it all.


I'm pretty sure (well, a local told me) that Letterewe was formerly owned by a Dutch millionaire who left it to his children in his will on the condition that they left the area as pristine wilderness. But he's not around to enforce the conditions of his will..... That would explain the offshore company anyway. The children's views on preserving the wilderness do not appear to coincide with their father's - which rather echoes one of the points you made.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby RocksRock » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:15 pm

By coincidence I was in Pitlochry last weekend and went into the John Muir Trust shop. Got talking to the assistant who told me of this scheme and all the destruction attendant upon it....... from what I understood, it is a community scheme, not an estate scheme. I imagine that might be why there has been no fuss in the media about it?

I can believe there has been a lot of soul searching in the Kinlochewe area, precisely on the issues you raise. I have to say that it is a walk that has been on my horizon for a while and sadly it will no longer be as I had imagined it. On the other hand, it may be that there are conditions as to remediation after the works are finished - it is to be hoped so.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Roger T » Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:54 pm

Thanks to the continuing interest in this I did a bit more digging. Here are some edifying facts:

The Heights of Kinlochewe Estate, which includes Loch Fada, came on the market in 2011, at an asking price of £2.6million.

The sale details contain the following gem:

A successful woodland grant scheme is in place at Heights of Kinlochewe and the possibility of a considerable hydro scheme, off the River Abhain Gleann na Muice, which runs out of the estate’s Loch Fada, offers an exciting prospect.

Exciting??? In what way exciting??? The excitement of ruining a beautiful glen?? Or of seeing one's bank balance swell???

I also looked at the Glenhydro consulting report for SEPA from the link posted by Sgurr. It says that the scheme is located in the Wester Ross National Scenic Area and the Kinlochewe Geological Conservation Review site. So much for that.

The initial water flow analysis deemed the scheme unacceptable, but it seems this was overruled. The report kind of glosses over the scenic impact by suggesting that access would be via an 'existing 'track. A very narrow track that may have just about taken an Argo on a good day is now a dual carriageway. I don't know much about fish but I got the impression that there was more fudging here. The report states that one of the steps in the river is too high for salmonids to get up. On the basis of this, no upward access is being incorporated into the scheme (no doubt saving a helluva lot of dosh for the developers). So whatever may happen in the future - a change in the watercourse, erosion, a higher water level - that may have allowed access, salmonids are now effectively barred from migrating up to Loch Fada.

Well, I could go on. My point anyway is not so much about this individual scheme. It just happens to be a perfect exemplar of the barely acceptable but incessant pushing back of boundaries that I discussed in my main piece. It is an unstoppable tide.

I've already started saving my money to buy shares in The Loch Fada Holiday Resort and Casino Corporation Inc.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby litljortindan » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:42 pm

Interesting report. Looking in the other direction, I'd say the Forestry Commission made a mess of a lot of places long before I took to the hills but their legacy still jars. Seems though that there are some efforts being made to reverse that sort of geometric ugliness that pervades. Still, I suppose there was a lot of natural afforestation a while back and a lot of what is prized now would, I imagine, have looked a lot different then.
Hydro schemes don't bother me too much (though I must admit it was dark when I went up and down part of your route last year) but I do find some wind turbines irritating and wonder if they are really necessary in some cases. Don't feel angry though, just kind of powerless.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Cuilvista » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:41 am

well done RogerT on writing this, I was up the very same glen last week to climb the Graham Beinn nan Ramh above Leckie. To me, this particular large scale hydro scheme was the culmination of a year of bagging Grahams and Corbetts and witnessing many many glens being devastated by Hydro schemes. While we stopped at Leckie before the old stalkers path, it dawned on me that the visual impact was perhaps lesser than the actual devastation of the 'sense of place' of this old glen. The new motorway hydro track which runs past Ben Dronaig lodge right to the bottom of (the no longer remote) Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich, another brutal example.

Where are the planning authorities in all of this? it is their duty to protect.

The sad fact is that hundreds of Scottish glens will never be the same again, they have become Fordist clones of each other having now lost many of those little nuances and characteristics which gave them their own distinctive and unique sense of place.
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:18 am

If I may add my piece...

Just a thought. Do we REALLY want the remotest corners of wild Scotland to look like this?

On the way to Beinn nan Ramh, 05/03/2017 - just make sure you don't drown by accident :wink:
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A new network of motorways...
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Rubbish tip?
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Yellow mushrooms?
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Caution, caution, empty botles everywhere!
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Another example - from one of the small glens above Loch Arkaig. We had visited this one before it was hydro-devastated, it was a lovely, quiet place. Now...
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The access road - A9 size, hardly worth the effort for such a small hydro dam...
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The very same devastation is going on in Glen Affric now - I don't have any photos but we visit the area regularly. The lovely access path/vt track leading from Chisholme bridge to Tom Choinnich and Toll Creagach has been bulldozed over...

Cuilvista wrote: The new motorway hydro track which runs past Ben Dronaig lodge right to the bottom of (the no longer remote) Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich, another brutal example.

Ben Dronaig is on our target list for this year, I'm not looking forward to the walk-in :(


Cheers, BP
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Re: The Lows and Lows of the Heights of Kinlochewe

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:50 pm

It seems gobsmacking to me that there aren't more controls over this. One of Scotland's biggest industries is tourism, and surely part of the alure even to non-walkers/climbers/paddlers is that it is remote and wild. Large tracks zig-zagging across the landscape are hardly going to help.

BlackPanther wrote:I
The very same devastation is going on in Glen Affric now - I don't have any photos but we visit the area regularly. The lovely access path/vt track leading from Chisholme bridge to Tom Choinnich and Toll Creagach has been bulldozed over...

Cuilvista wrote: The new motorway hydro track which runs past Ben Dronaig lodge right to the bottom of (the no longer remote) Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich, another brutal example.

Ben Dronaig is on our target list for this year, I'm not looking forward to the walk-in :(


Cheers, BP


I remember reading about this in your report I think, and being pretty despondent about that approach having walked it a year before or so.

This year we deliberately didn't go into Fisherfield from the Kinlochewe side because of this hydro. I worry its only a matter of time before the other approaches to the region are also tainted.


As for Ben Dronaig - consider Bearnais instead, bothy it having come in from Achintee on the little path. Bearnais is a really lovely bothy. That way you can pretend the big track isn't there! And Cheesecake and Lurg Mor are right outside the door too...
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