The Great Divide: Scotland’s watershed
17th January 2022
Little known fact: part of Scotland’s watershed passes through the Creag Meagaidh area.
This great divide wriggles its way from Peel Fell on the border with England in the Southern Uplands to Duncansby Head in the top right-hand corner of Scotland. 1200km across peaks, ridges, and bealachs. And peat bogs. Yes, many, many peat bogs.
(Above) Of course, there are books about it now. Both worth a read, each giving a slightly different perspective. It’s a route for the committed walker with Yeti-gaiters (still available?) and inextinguishable enthusiasm for out-of-the-way places.
(Above) The red line denotes the watershed. Those of you who are intimate with the detailed hydrology of the area will instantly see the obvious error. Points awarded to those who spot it (sadly, no prizes).
So, a jaunt up Glen Roy for quite some distance today to look at some snow (very little of interest) and check out the watershed on the backside of Creag Meagaidh.
(Above) The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy within the Lochaber Geopark and accessed from Roybridge. The origin of these ancient shorelines was one of the few things Charles Darwin got wrong. A very good leaflet about the Glen Roy Parallel roads is available here: https://www.scottishgeology.com/find-out-more/publications/#glen_roy
(Above) Creag a Bhanain – the highest point on the skyline – and Sron Nead just beneath it. The watershed tracks down these two peaklets, across hummocky drift and peat bogs on its way to the very broad bealach just west of Loch Spey. The area here feels wild and remote, with terrible underfoot conditions in many places, and if I’m honest it feels just a bit God-forsaken. However, our wild spaces are a diminishing resource and under threat from energy-related infrastructure so need to be cherished and protected, at least for their wildness & remoteness if nothing else.
(Above) Luib-Chonnal bothy in the upper River Roy drainage basin and 2 km west of the watershed. Was a good place to bail-out to today for a quick sandwich and a brew after a bog-fest to/from Sron Nead.
(Above) Looking south to the backside of Stob Poite Coire Ardair. Loch Roy beneath the whitest, snowiest slopes of Creag an Lochain near the top of the skyline. The Window is just on the other side of the highest point of the horizon. Milder at height today with a slight softening of snow later in the day but with good stability in all locations.
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