The Angry Corrie 24: Sep-Oct 1995

Alternating current: the first electric waterfall?

It was a typical Scottish showery May day: not totally wet, just 58 minutes of rain per hour. We were pottering about the hills of Glen Lednock - non-eponymised, not on anyone's list, unfrequented though not remote. Every path was a stream, every slope a torrent, but one waterfall in particular caught my eye. It seemed to be flowing upwards. My first thought was that I was following in the great TAC tradition of discoverers of electric phenomena. This could be TAC's first electric waterfall.

I tried to rationalise that it must just be spray blowing back, but there was no wind; the rain was coming down stair-rods. As we got nearer I also had to discount optical illusion because the water was definitely rising vertically like a fountain or a geyser, altering in height. Although off our intended route it certainly seemed worth a detour. We headed up the hill and came across a well-made track which led to a small artificial dam. Suddenly all was revealed as we realised the water was rising from a vertical relief pipe, driven by the pressure caused by the recent downpours. It looked very dramatic, reaching over ten feet high yet somehow ridiculously incongruous in this otherwise unremarkable heather landscape.

Now this explanation might satisfy the reader of your average glossy outdoor magazine, but it struck me almost immediately that this was too obvious. This was what someone wanted us to think. After all, the area is close to the Highland Boundary Fault line - and Comrie, apparently once known as the "shakey toun", was an early centre of earthquake research with one of the world's first seismographs. It is also not far from the Cultybraggan Training Camp: superficially a collection of battered Nissen huts but now known to be the highly unlikely nerve centre for UK communications in a national emergency. Why there? The similarity to a geyser might not be coincidental.

My theory is that a source of geothermal energy has been discovered in the Perthshire hills. The various pipelines and apparently ramshackle buildings are not related to the reservoirs at all but in fact are part of a network leading through the hills to Cultybraggan where research into potential uses is being carried out. The geyser that we came across is probably the result of a force so powerful that it could not be controlled completely but had been directed to this concealed spot, where excess energy could be safely and secretly released.

Within seconds of leaving, it was hidden from view. The only direction from which it could be spotted was the one from which we had come. As we made our way back down to the road we wondered if our suppositions could be true. Who knows, but the new signs attempting to stop people using the road up to the Lednock Reservoir only support our suspicions.

Val Hamilton

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