The Lost World of Glascarnoch

I was in the north of Scotland in July and took the opportunity to drive out to the western coast. The weather was unseasonably fine and the breeze was at a perfect level: too strong for midges to do their worst, but not strong enough to make flying a drone impossible.

The wet-looking, brown photo is from December 2018, when I put my drone into the breezy but temporarily dry sky to photograph the muddy, estuary-like western end of the loch. I hadn’t noticed what appeared to be a road or path leading into the loch until then, but I made a mental note to find out about it and continued on my journey with a moody, almost monochromatic photo.

Drone photograph of Loch Glascarnoch in winter
The northern end of Loch Glascarnoch in the winter of 2018

I stopped at the western end of the loch this summer to re-photograph the same scene in much finer weather. Once again, I noted the road leading into the water and I was reminded that I wanted to know more. I photographed the view from a slightly different angle this time, as the water was still and clear, and the reflected blue skies contrasted superbly with the whisky-coloured sand beneath the shallow water.

Drone photograph of Loch Glascarnoch in summer
The same view, this time in summer

Having now looked up more information about the road, I find that it was indeed a thoroughfare: the main road from Dingwall (in the east) to Ullapool (in the west). This single-track road with the familiar passing places was the main route until 1957, when the entire glen was flooded by closing the new Glascarnoch dam at its eastern end. The hydroelectric scheme was approved in 1947 and the water began feeding Mossford power station when work was completed.

When the water is low, the road becomes visible once more and when it’s particularly low, old bridges and the outlines of former houses also resurface, along with large shingle banks close to the modern A835 which have been formed by underwater currents.

You can read reports and see some more photos from 2020, when the water was particularly low, in the Inverness Courier and the Scotsman.

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