Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tigh na Cailliche, Glen Lyon, under threat

UPDATE: At the present time, the planning application has been withdrawn. Please see this post here, and this one as well for more information.

This is not good. Not good at all if the initial report I've seen is true.

In the past few articles I've put up on the site I've made mention of Tigh na Cailliche - also known as Tigh nam Bodach - which is a site in Glen Lyon, Perthshire. This is a shrine nestled away in Gleann Cailliche; every year three stones, roughly shaped in human forms, which are known as the Cailleach, the Bodach and the Nighean, are taken out of their 'house' or shrine at Bealltainn, and then returned to their home for safekeeping over the winter at Samhainn. It's said that so long as the rite is observed faithfully each year, the area will prosper under the auspices of the Cailleach, who is said to have once lived there. So grateful was she for the hospitality given to her by the locals, she asked them to look after the shrine and faithfully carry out the ritual each Bealltainn and Samhainn, and she would make sure the crops would never fail, and the weather would always be favourable.

Nobody knows for sure how old the tradition is, but it's something that's an integral part of the area's heritage and history. It's just been brought to my attention on a forum I lurk on that the area is now under threat after an application for a hydro scheme has been lodged:

Planning permission was recently lodged for four hydro electric schemes that will forever transform the Gleann Cailliche and the surrounding landscape. Existing tracks will be upgraded to take heavy traffic. Power houses will be constructed, borrow pits dug and fresh tracks will be carved into the steeply sided slopes to weirs. An overhead power line will be run past the Tigh nam Bodach and down the side of Loch Lyon.

It's unclear how the shrine might be otherwise affected, but understandably the locals are worried about its potential impact on the area, and there are other issues to consider as well - especially as far as some of the rare habitats that can be found there are concerned. This site here takes you on a tour of the area, so you can see what it's like.

As the article I've linked to says, renewable energy schemes are always a good thing, but one has to question if this is the right place for it (putting it mildly, I think). These areas of natural beauty, rare habitats, and such historical traditions that are a part of Scotland's heritage should not have to be compromised or blighted by power lines for the sake of money. Because really, I think that's what it boils down to (but then, some might say I'm a cynic).

I sincerely hope the application will be considered carefully and objectively, and that the right decision will be made in the end. The link above, to the Glenlyon History Society, gives an email address if you want to lodge your concerns or ask for more information.

ETA: There's information here on planning policies for National Scenic Areas like Glen Lyon, which should be protected from inappropriate and intrusive developments, and there's a link on the page to a pdf study of the Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon area that specifically raises concerns about developments like hydro-electric schemes in the area.

ETA2: See also the Facebook Group.