The Angry Corrie 52: Dec 2001 - Feb 2002

A bit more up top (more highest things)

AS EXPECTED, plenty of feedback came in about Life up top, John Burnett's TAC51 survey of Scottish high things. Here are some of the additions and amendments suggested thus far - and more along the same lines remain welcome, of course. The various contributors are Ann Bowker, Irvine Butterfield, Martin Everett, Paul Hesp, Andrew Hyams, Ian Johnston, Paul Prescott, Ronald Turnbull and Craig Weldon, all identified by their initials below. Things are rounded off by an anecdote from Iain Cameron that will take some beating.

Highest house

IB: Shieling of Saughs [630m, Landranger 44 / 396758] is what it says - a shieling - and would not have been inhabited all year round. It is now a bothy and is available all year. Fealar Lodge [550m, 43/009800] probably holds the title and as far as I know is still occupied year round. Of more interest is the highest distillery - here I think Braes of Glenlivet might just beat Dalwhinnie by a whisker. If it is the real stuff you are after, the fairies on Schiehallion might beat the lot... (For more on festive fire-water, see pp12-13 - Ed.)

Highest forests and plantations

ME: I climbed Cairn Gorm a few years ago and noticed a solitary stand of trees planted quite high up on the side of the hill. The information board mentioned something about an experiment being carried out to see how height affected trees (or something like that). Have a look at Landranger 36 / 012081. The highest contour crossed is 670m and the highest corner of the plantation is almost at the 680m contour. This is at least 10m higher than the highest trees mentioned on Carn Dearg Mor.

Highest dyke

IJ: What an interesting article - it had me digging about on various OS sheets! According to my journal, the dyke on Cairn of Claise, summit 1064m, is still traceable on the ground and seems to mark the march between Tayside and Aberdeenshire. Another in the same area runs along the crest of Creag Leacach (987m). I have a dim recollection that the fenceline running around the Carn Mairg / Carn Gorm group has the trace of a dyke in parts. And what on earth was the purpose behind the masterpiece on Suilven?

IB: It depends on what you mean by a dyke. If we are talking about a dry stone wall then that around the triangulation pillar on the summit of Mam Sodhail (1181m) must have some claim. If we're talking about a linear structure then that on Cairn of Claise will be a contender.

RT: I have already wasted 60 seconds of what could have been wellroundedness verifying that the stone wall on Kirriereoch Hill is in fact 11m lower down than the one on Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.

Highest graveyard

ME: Re single graves/corpses, according to the SMC's Corbetts book (p95), there is supposed to be a suicide's grave under the cairn at the summit of Mount Blair, 744m. This is some 12m higher than the top of Beinn na Caillich.

CW: I'm sure I've heard a story that Lochan nan Corp, on the bealach between Ben Ledi and Benvane, has a coffin in it. Apparently it was an old funeral route and one winter, when a funeral party was crossing the loch, the ice gave way and everything fell in. However I can't find the story in print and don't know if the coffin was recovered or left there. There is also aircraft wreckage near the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor above Glen Callater, but again I don't know if that would count. (The bodies would have been taken down as with almost all crashes. I did however once spend a few minutes on Ben Cleuch nattering to a man who had been in the RAF team on that particular shout - a Canberra, on 22/11/56. He confessed to having smuggled a flier's skull-cap back down with him - Ed.)

Highest remains relating to deer stalking

IB: Boundary fences and the like have a doubtful claim to be associated with deer stalking as many were built as boundaries of estates and possibly have connections with enclosure acts. If we are talking about watchers' huts and the like, then Fuaran Diotach or Ross's Bothy is a contender: 36/902976, at 900m, overlooking the head of Loch Einich. The old fireplace and chimney were intact some years ago and I believe that Affleck Gray discovered a box of matches encased in candle wax when sifting through the old embers. Ross was a well-known stalker of the late 19th century. There is also the remains of a watchers' cabin on Beinn Udlamain, 42/579736: a stone structure about 5ft square, roofed in corrugated iron. It is a long time since I visited that side of the hill, so it may be derelict now.

IJ: On Creag Leacach again there is a peculiar cell-like structure made in the same style as the dyke. It sits at the lowest point of the Creag Leacach / Glas Maol ridge at about 940m. There is another roofed shelter on the south ridge of Beinn Udlamain at roughly 960m. It's in quite good nick and would still make a good bivvy.

Highest inn

IB: In the 1800s there used to be a place for refreshment at Invermeran, 51/408421, at about 420m. This was used by drovers crossing from Rannoch Moor to upper Glen Lyon.

RT: The highest [UK] inn is surely Tan Hill in England, followed by the Cat and Fiddle. Tontine Carsphairn has closed down but not quite fallen down: now converted into flats. It closed about 15 years ago - what long memories TACifiers have.

Highest racecourse

AB: Good to see that Albion can beat the Scots with one height record. High Street at 828m still has its summit named as Racecourse Hill on the 1:25,000 map. Unfortunately I don't know when it was used for horse racing. [IJ adds that it "was apparently well used by Gypsies".]

Highest electronic gizmo

IJ: How about the really awful eyesore on the summit of the Cairnwell (933m), which among other things carries a VHF relay for police communications? Also, the summit weather station on Cairn Gorm [summit 1244m] is certainly electronic and is presumably linked by telemetry to Heriot Watt University.

AH: I was fascinated by Life Up Top - the sort of thoughts that help pass many a long walk-in or lonely bothy night. In respect of the highest gizmo, surely John Burnett missed the obvious one of the mobile phone mast on top of the Cairnwell. Maybe there's so much other junk in that area, he didn't notice.

PP: The article is nowhere near on this. My first thought was Morrone (859m), but then I remembered the West Highland Line radio signalling tower on Meall a'Bhuiridh (1108m, although I don't think it's quite on the summit). That is, I think, the highest in the spirit of the question, although taken literally the winner would surely be the weather centre on Cairn Gorm, which can transmit its results back to academia and TV. The Meall a'Bhuiridh set-up used to be gas-powered, which meant that it resulted in an unsightly enclosure of gas bottles on top of the hill. It's now, I believe, powered from an electric cable run up from the Glencoe ski centre. More economical, and it has avoided the strange phenomenon of walkers descending from the hill to report that they've smelt a gas leak (caused by wind blowing out the flame).

Highest industrial workings

RT: There were Cairngorm mines on Beinn a'Bhuird and even on Macdui I think, but should I search through my grandpa's SMC Guide to verify? No, I'm making real efforts towards being a fully rounded human being this week.

Highest ecclesiastical structure

PP: How about the cross on Ben Ledi? A structure doesn't have to be a building. (Good point, and so how about the cross near or just below the top of Maol Chean-dearg, 933m? This has featured often in TAC and crops up again on p18 of this issue - Ed.)

Highest track

CW: There is a track on the eastern side of the Drumochter pass which rises to a quarry at almost exactly 914m, and which I once (unsuccessfully) attempted to drive up. The shame!

On a related subject, Adam Watson adds: I was saddened to read of the Monar track in TAC51. In 1985 I mapped all bulldozed hill tracks east of the A9 and in 2001 updated this. Also, I have noted controversial new tracks since 1980 elsewhere in Scotland, and would be grateful to hear from anyone who has seen a recent track there. Please give the year if you saw excavation, track type (wide for Land Rover or narrow for argocat) and location (grid refs for start and finish, or a sketch of the route with notes on altitudes, or ideally a map photocopy with the track route in pencil). I aim to produce a report that provides detailed technical evidence showing the severe impacts on landscape, soils and vegetation caused by uncontrolled locations, insensitive excavation methods and lack of reinstatement. This evidence would then be the basis for pressing for full development control of future tracks and removal of some existing tracks. (Contact Adam at, or at CEH, Banchory, AB31 4BW. An inventory of hill tracks is a great idea, badly needed, and could form the basis of a future TAC article or even TACit Press booklet - Ed.)

Most northerly TAC merchandise

PH: In Norway, I came across a deserted Lapp hut at about 700m, just below the birch treeline, at 67N. These tree-branch and grass-sod structures don't last very long, but this had been restored by some locals who must have a genuine interest in heritage for its own sake, as the tourist potential at half a day's walk from the nearest dead-end road is limited. I met no other walkers that day, just a grumpy old angler. I'll send you a picture of myself in swimming trunks in due course (no thanks - Ed.), to prove that the polar regions aren't cold, contrary to what Scott has made you people believe. The TAC T-shirt was in my rucksack - can this have been a "furthest north" for your products? Actually, I got to 67 11' 30" on foot wearing the TAC shirt. (Paul Hesp is also the only person thus far known to have read TAC in the Kremlin - Ed.)

Iain Cameron adds:

I think I can site the highest ice-cream van. It was in June 1989 above Glen Feshie. My dad and I had just left the top of Mullach Clach a'Bhlair, having had to use the compass to get there. On hitting the Land Rover track further east of where we had left it, we spied said icer looming out of the mist. It was parked up, apparently ready for custom.

The ice-cream seller and partner were rather puzzled at the lack of trade. "I thought it would be busier than this," one of them said. Further enquiries only confirmed the lack of any nice hot cups of tea which would have been much more appropriate than ice-cream given the weather.

After a cheery farewell we carried on down, and the van passed us not much later with further waves, the vendor obviously now convinced that he was unlikely to see any further passers-by that day. As to the actual location, my nomination for the highest ice-cream van/vendor in Scotland is at around 990m, at 884929 on Landranger 43. It was all very bizarre, and I suspect the vendor's only jingle was the one he probably had with his girlfriend.

TAC 52 Index