The Angry Corrie 15: Oct-Nov 1993


The Great Sea Level Mystery

The Great Sea Level Mystery (TAC12, p16) may not be unique. It got me thinking of another problem case on the alas munroless but amply corbetted Isle of Arran. Many the times I've wandered up Glen Sannox and Goat Fell thinking all was well with nature (apart from the midges and the mist). Only recently did I notice that there is something not quite right with the watercourses... The "Electric" River Iorsa runs uphill and down again. This is disconcertingly non-Newtonian behaviour.

On OS Sheet 69 the Iorsa Water can be traced from its sea outflow at 884369 to its source at 936504 - also on the sea at Loch Ranza! A total drop of 0.000m! It is all normal gravity flow for the part coming down Glen lorsa from Loch na Davie at 950456, but it doesn't start there. The ribbon of blue is unbroken: Loch na Davie is fed from Loch Ranza 351 m below!

Ah! but the unlearned might say, it's simply a loch with two exits. Have you ever seen a loch with two exits? A dozen entries, yes, but two exits without a single entry? Scientfically speaking two might exist for a short while, but if the "extreme of potential is maximum, however, the equilibrium is unstable" - Encyclopaedia Britannica. (Surely Albionnica? - Ed.) The experimentalists among the readers can prove this at home with a ring of flour and a pint of milk. Like any good researcher you could fake the results with a concrete loch, but who would want to do that? I don't think even the SERC would give a grant for it. In any case Loch na Davie hasn't changed since the last ice age or Noah, whichever came first. In fact "loch" is a misnomer - it's more of a puddle.

Site examination of the Ranza Water at Puddle na Davie shows it running downhill into the sea, but as this is obviously contradicting the encyclopaedia it must just be an illusion as baffling as the Electric Brae in Ayrshire. Electricity has nothing to do with why the said brae seems to go up when it's actually going down or vice-versa, but we might as well dub the Iorsa Water the same.

The Ben Cruachan pump storage scheme really has an electric-powered river running up the mountain, but that is Hydro and doesn't count. I ask, is the Iorsa Water unique in Alba? During the great search for White Holes (which has even crossed into the Land of the Three Figure OS Sheet No.), did anyone note another "Electric" river? (The Crinan Canal doesn't count either.)

Dr Donald Faulds

Ed. - There are very few Things in Life on which your Ed. is expert (Don Bradman's career, the differing varieties of sardines, sild, skippers etc; how to hit a looping topspin forehand into the far comer of a tabletennis table), but two-way lochs is in fact a bit like home territory.

Take a copy of OS Sheet 34. Open out the bottom half. There, in the strath looping round the W side o fthe Sron a'Choire Ghairbh massif, a couple of k south of where it says Glengarry Forest in big letters, is Lochan Fhudair. And yes, you've guessed it...

This of course leads to several thoughts. Firstly, whereas the nearby Caledonian Canal is, like Crinan, an artificial chopping-in-two of Scotland, this one is entirely natural. Quite why Telford didn't think of channelling all the cabincruisers through here isn't clear. Hence mainland Scotland actually stops just N of the GG, with Knoydart, Kintail etc constituting an island. Perhaps TAC readers could try to discover / invent the name of said island. (Note also that according to Dr Faulds' observations, Arran is in fact a pair of complementary islands, Big and Wee, a bit like the Cumbraes.)

There may of course be similar instances all over the country - such that Scotland is really an archipelago - but only one other is known, and that temporary. On Sheet 72, the wide, flat strath linking Biggar with Broughton, Clyde with Tweed, looks very Electric at first glance. Empirical research however reveals the existence of dug drainage ditches, which are effectively mini-canals. But when it pisses like mad, this strath has been known to flood, linking the two major river systems and thus creating yet another island. Anyone else know anything else... ?


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