|View across Talladh a Bheithe to Schiehallion|
Earlier in the year a proposal was put forward for a wind farm at Talladh a Bheithe, an area of the Central Highlands lying between Loch Ericht and Loch Rannoch. It’s not well-known as it contains no Munros though it is overlooked by a remote Corbett (hill between 2500’ and 3000’), Beinn Mholach. However there are many Munros surrounding Talladh a Bheithe so any wind farm would be highly visible in many views near and far, a factor that has prompted many outdoor and conservation organisations to object strongly to the proposal. A group has been set up to fight the wind farm too. Called KeepRannoch Wild it has an excellent informative website with many links.
|Beinn Mholach, looking towards a distant Ben Nevis|
As it was clear from the map how obtrusive this wind farm would be I put in my objection as soon as I heard about it. I was aware though that I didn’t really know what the area was like. Indeed, although I had climbed Beinn Mholach and had looked across Talladh a Bheithe from many Munros I had no recollection of actually going there, nor was I even aware of the name. I decided to remedy this with an overnight visit and another ascent of Beinn Mholach so I could view the area from above.
|View over Talladh a Bheithe from Beinn Mholach|
A predicted weather window of 24 hours or so amongst the long run of storms this autumn looked a good opportunity. I hoped the forecast was correct as I set off in the evening from Dalnaspidal on the A9 road in rain and wind and tramped along the track beside Loch Garry. Leaving the lochside as darkness fell the track deteriorated into a boggy morass. However as my feet grew muddier and wetter the rest of me started to dry out as the clouds cleared and the rain faded away. There was a sharp feel to the air when I reached the estate bothy Duinish at the base of Beinn Mholach and soon an almost-full moon rose into the sky and a frost settled on the ground. I lit a fire in the bothy, which made the place feel a little more welcoming though did little to create heat, and settled down for the night.
|Ben Alder from Beinn Mholach|
Dawn came calm and clear. Just a few high thin clouds streaked the sky. I was soon away up the heathery, boggy slopes of Beinn Mholach. This 841 metre hill is big and complex with several subsidiary tops and several little rock outcrops (the name means shaggy mountain). As I climbed the landscape all around opened up. There are no other hills of similar height nearby so Beinn Mholach is an excellent viewpoint. To the south across Talladh a Bheithe and Loch Rannoch I could see the distinctive cone of Schiehallion, a mountain that would dominate the whole day, and the Glen Lyon and Ben Lawers hills. North and east were the A9 Munros, big rounded lumps. North and west Ben Alder was snow-capped with to the south two usually hard to see Munros, Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre, clearly visible. Further away were many more hills including a distant very snow Ben Nevis. Beinn Mholach really does feel in the heart of the mountains. I could also look down to Talladh a Bheithe, an area of low hills and stream valleys to the south-west. Wind turbines here really would stand out and completely disrupt the feel of being in a wild place. There are no big manmade structures close to Beinn Mholach and so it should remain.
|Ben Nevis from Beinn Mholach|
I continued along the broad ridge stretching west from Beinn Mholach until I was directly above the proposed wind farm site. Here I descended beside the Allt a’ Choire Odhair Bhig, passing a small ragged plantation, into the centre of Talladh a Bheithe where I camped close to the stream, a peaceful spot on the edge of a wide flat boggy area and below rounded hills. The only sounds were the trickling of the stream over stones and the occasional guttural roar of a rutting stag from high in the hills. In the distance I could see Schiehallion. Dusk brought another hard frost and a crispness to the air that made the mountains all round stand out as sharp silhouettes. A wind farm here would totally destroy this peacefulness and subtle beauty.
|Dusk at the Talladh a Bheithe camp|
The weather window was just that and I woke to rain and wind and low cloud hiding the mountains. A five-hour head-down, hood-up march took me round the base of the hills and back along Loch Garry to my car. I didn’t mind. I’d seen Talladh a Bheithe, I’d had a lovely camp and I’d climbed a fine hill.