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the Degree Confluence Project
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United Kingdom : Scotland

2.7 km (1.7 miles) NW of Backies, Highland, Scotland, UK
Approx. altitude: 123 m (403 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 58°S 176°E

Accuracy: 6 m (19 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: North, towards the road #3: East, towards habitation #4: South, Beinn Lunndaidh #5: West, Dunrobin Glen #6: GPS shot, painfully gained. #7: Looking down towards the confluence from up Dunrobin Glen. #8: Golspie, the main street and road to the far North.

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  58°N 4°W (visit #5)  

#1: The confluence looking westward up the glen.

(visited by Richard Webb)

25-Jul-2004 -- This is probably Scotland's easiest confluence being only one field away from a road and situated on a riverbank rather than on some remote moor or in a forest. Well it just missed out on the forest as the Dunrobin Glen is now mostly planted, but its still in the clear.

The Ordnance Survey (OSGB) datum shows the confluence across the river, this is marked on the 1:50000 sheet 17. Fortunately WGS84 is a couple of hundred metres away and no wading required. I expect you will still get wet feet from the bogs though.

I have passed it many times, but the weather has always been too poor for photography. Last time I climbed Beinn Lunndaidh the boggy hill to the south in pouring rain rather than visit the confluence. A previous attempt failed when roads were blocked by snow.

Its quite a fluke this being easy, most of Sutherland is far from roads and desolate game reserves consisting of rough peat bog. Odds are that a random point in the county would be hard to get at. The place is empty due to nothing short of ethnic cleansing in the 19th century. Folk were evicted to make room for sheep ranges, the shepherds soon following to make way for hunting estates. Some made it to Canada others settled in coastal communities, the interior remains largely uninhabited to this day. The architect of this catastrophe is commemorated by a statue above the confluence - fortunately invisible from it.

This time, was on returning from visiting friends nearby and was a simple downhill walk through a field full of bog plants, yet dry underfoot. The GPS led me to a grassy meadow beside a small river with the forestry plantations (Sitka spruce for paper) just beyond the water. Getting the zeros was painful due to the midges (Culcoides inpunctatus) a tiny vicious bloodsucking fly that plagues Scotland. This variety of noseeum has to be experienced to be believed. Noone has found a consistent repellant and they attack in 10s of thousands. Think carefully before camping in Scotland in summer. Enough to make you long for the big swattable mozzies of British Columbia. Trust the wind to drop at the vital moment allowing the swarm to find me.

On three sides there were newly planted hillsides rising to Beinn Lunndaidh and Meall Horn (a short easy climb for a BIG view) with the road to the interior passing up the glen. Above the confluence there is one more inhabited house. To the east there are more houses and folk were gathering in sheep for clipping. Beyond another mature woodland lies the town of Golspie and the sea. As well as the noise from the sheep gathering, tractors and dogs, a buzzard(Buteo buteo) was calling overhead.

There will be changes here: The trees are growing fast and the glen looks different to previous visits. The area is beside a major electricity transmission line and will soon be developed for wind power. Meall Horn and Beinn Lunndaidh are obvious targets for development, and at least the windmills will be more use than that monument to evil that currently disgraces Ben Bhraggie.

Future visitors should also drop in on Brora, home to one of Scotlands best icecream parlours. Hopefully they have been doing good business as this has been a very poor wet, rather "Icelandic" summer sofar, and this was the first day in 6 weeks on which I had not experienced some rain. It was still cool and cloudy but the sun did appear at times.


 All pictures
#1: The confluence looking westward up the glen.
#2: North, towards the road
#3: East, towards habitation
#4: South, Beinn Lunndaidh
#5: West, Dunrobin Glen
#6: GPS shot, painfully gained.
#7: Looking down towards the confluence from up Dunrobin Glen.
#8: Golspie, the main street and road to the far North.
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)