It’s supposed to appear for one day only, once every hundred years, Brigadoon, the fabled Highland village. Now, intriguingly, after almost 60 years under water, the old road through Glen Glascarnoch to Ullapool has reappeared in a similar fashion!
Up until the 1950s the main road from Inverness to Ullapool ran through the middle of the glen. Though the term ‘main road’ may conjure up false images for many today: back then, as in so much of the Highlands and Islands, it was still only a single track road with passing places.
Throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, an unparalleled hydro-electric scheme was created throughout the Highlands, bringing ‘Power to the Glens’ for the first time ever. Glascarnoch Glen was dammed and an artificial loch, Loch Glascarnoch, created to hold water from Loch Vaich and Loch Droma, before feeding into the hydro system at Mossford Power Station, five miles away. When the dam was built the road was lost forever – or so it seemed.
Earlier this year SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) decided to lower the water level in Loch Glascarnoch as a preparation for potential heavy autumn and winter rains, and suddenly there it was – the ‘lost’ road – and with hardly a pothole to be seen!
It was a dramatic sight and when we arrived a number of people were already taking the opportunity to walk this ghost road while it’s still possible. We walked for a mile or so, made it across the bridge (thanks to wellies) and perhaps half a mile or so further, but at that point the mud thickened and the road disappeared back into the dark water, and it was time to return to the car.
It was fascinating to see old tree roots, but also interesting to see just how quickly much of the area had become green: tiny plants and grasses taking this rare opportunity to burst out between rocks and mud. But, just like Brigadoon, the rains will come and this old ghost road and its bridges will disappear once again too. And, who knows, might well become just another strange tale of the mysterious and misty Highlands!!