Marhofn 153.08 - May 2006

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Trouble at hill: Our fences electric

Alan Dawson

Heading south-west off Geal Charn (821m Corbett by Nethy Bridge), I came across one of the worst man-made barriers I have encountered in the Scottish hills - a long, waist-high electric fence, with no way over and no warning signs. A shocking find. We had to change our route, following the fence west for 800 metres, until we finally found a low section of fence with a thin plastic sleeve, where we could jump or step over. After another half an hour of very rough ground, I had just started to enjoy the walk again when we came across the same damned fence, completely barring the way to the 637m summit of Carn na h-Ailig. There was no sign of any way across without dropping way down from the ridge. We spent several minutes trying to figure out a way over. I gave Rhona a leg up to see if she could hop on to the tiny post and then over, but I couldn't hold her steady enough. Eventually I got down on my hands and knees so that she could stand on my back then step on the post and jump over. It wasn't easy for either of us, as she was standing on my back for what seemed like ages.

She eventually made the leap, but then I found I couldn't get over. I thought I could vault it but it was a bit too high and slightly uphill. In the end I took off my waterproof trousers so I'd have a bit more spring in my legs, took a run-up and a big backswing, and did manage to vault it, just. Phew! I would happily have given up the summit (it was only a Graham Top) but it was also the direct route back, and the short heather on the broad ridge was far more pleasant than the spongy tussocks and long wet grass lower down.

The fence looked new, and I assume it is meant to keep out sheep and encourage natural regeneration - there were a few early signs of regrowth near the top of the glen. But I don't see how it squares with the access code that the Cairngorm National Park Authority trumpets: 'Respect the interests of other people. Act with courtesy, consideration and awareness'. I sent details to the MCofS and local access officer on 1 August and received a brief acknowledgement, but have heard nothing since.

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