A fond farewell to the magnificent Monadhliath

by backpackingbongos

I stood under blue skies and hot sun, after stopping to strip down to just a baselayer. A welcome relief after three days of freezing temperatures and limited visibility. The high plateau stretched into the far distance, every gully and hag of the brown moor still filled with snow. For a while I was transported back to Arctic Sweden, such was the scale of the scene. It was day four of a solo backpack and I had yet to see another human being.

The Monadhliath have long held a magnetic draw for me, unlike any other place in Scotland. It is predominantly moorland in nature, although in places it does rise above the magic 3000 feet. High plateaus split by long lonely glens, perfect for the backpacker.

My attention for five days over the Easter weekend was a leisurely exploration of the area where the consented Stronelairg wind farm will sit. 67 huge turbines along with miles of new roads, pylons to connect it to the grid and a potential substation near the historic Garva Bridge. The turbines will occupy a site the size of Inverness. This past weekend though it was just me, numerous golden plover singing their hearts out and mountain hare still in their winter coats. It’s heartbreaking to think that it will soon be covered in concrete and steel, the whooshing of blades replacing bird song. There is a possibility that the John Muir Trust will win their appeal, but I don’t hold out much hope.

In a way this was my final farewell to a fabulous area, a place that gives a feeling of freedom and space that is hard to find in this crowded Island. Goodbye dear Moanies, it was good to meet you whilst you still had a beating heart.

I’ll do a proper trip report at some time, in the meantime just a few photos and words.

Looking into the heart of the proposed site, a high plateau all above 600 metres. Taken from the summit of the Corbett Meall na h-Aisre.

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Camped at 670 metres bang in the middle of the extensive moorland plateau. You can just make out one of the wind monitoring masts right of centre.

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The still frozen Allt Creag Chomaich. In summer the joy of the Monadhliath is following the grassy banks of the numerous watercourses. This time the going was treacherous with snow covered bog to snatch the unwary.

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Looking north from the summit of the Corbett Gairbean across the rapidly melting snow fields on the plateau.

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There is currently a worthwhile petition, Save Loch Ness and the Great Glen. Please sign it.

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29 Responses to “A fond farewell to the magnificent Monadhliath”

  1. Look forward to the full report. So much to see and so little time before it’s trashed.

    • Hope that the weather is kind when you cross on the Challenge Robin, make sure that you camp there too, a truly great experience.

  2. Please help us to save what is left by sharing this video and signing and sharing the petition to everyone and anyone. We need your help to wake people up to what is happening. Thank you

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01564

  3. Thank you. It is gathering momentum but we need all the help we can get. 😦

  4. Looking forward to the report James. Your photos demonstrate what a tragedy it will be.

  5. Quite magnificent, James.
    Lovely pictures, too.
    🙂

  6. Reblogged this on windfarmaction and commented:
    A pity that so few see until it is too Late!

  7. Buddy

    Reuban and yourself should have dropped in for a brew. I live in Kingussie now.
    You may forget we meet at Cougie whilst you were on TGOC 2011 I think. I recognised you and Reubans from these blogs.

    Stuart

    • Hi Stuart, yes I do remember you from Cougie in 2011, you doing the Challenge again this year?

      Pretty jealous that you now get to live in Kingussie 🙂

      • No not this year bud. Moved up in Nov and started work with Scottish Ambulance Service so was unsure about getting leave etc.
        You walking this way at all??
        Stuart

      • Sadly I will be crossing the A9 just north of Blair Atholl Stuart, only a month to go!

      • Looks a great route buddy. Hopefully you won’t need to do your FWA down A9. I had too in 2009. ️Mind I really enjoyed Glen Tilt. I intend to catch the train to Blair Atholl soon and walk back home.
        Look forward to further reports bud.

      • Walking back to your house from Blair Atholl, nice!!

  8. An utter desecration of a beautiful area, tragic, absolutely tragic. Petition signed James. Awesome photos.

    • Thanks Dawn. Get a train up there as soon as you can, hills accessible from Kingussie and Newtonmore. Your kind of country I reckon.

  9. Sad times indeed, petition signed. On my drive home from Scotland down the M74 I noticed just how many turbines there were in the Southern Uplands. I haven’t driven that way in daylight for a few years so it was a bit of a shock

  10. B-DL is absolutely right – utter desecration. And Mr Salmond and friends have the bluddy nerve to claim we live in a democracy. Petition signed and shared.

  11. Looks beautiful. Will have to look this place up as I had never heard of it until now!

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