Timeslips, a Cat Circle, and ‘The Ghost Train of Balquhidder’

by David Cowan

It is interesting to relate the interconnecting web of strange stories which can occur in certain areas.

Take the case of ‘The Ghost Train of Balquhidder’ for instance. I have already written about this in a previous issue, but for the sake of new readers and to refresh the memory of those who have already read this, I will briefly repeat it:

   Mr. and Mrs Maddison were driving south on the A84 Lochearnhead to Balquhidder road (marked “X” on the map) late one starry night in 1997 when they heard the whistle and chuff of a stream train near the old station at Balquhidder junction. To the north they could see a line of moving lights which they took to be carriages. When they told Mrs. Maddison’s father about the event, they were astounded to find that the line had been closed over 30 years ago (1965) after a landslide! 

The ley which may be responsible for this phenomenon comes from Killin stone circle (see diag). From the top (north) a special type of ley energy, which I call a cup-mark ley, as it is emitted from a  standing stone with carvings pounded into its surface, enters the circle, and is then warped up and over the hill to Loch Larig-Eala, down the now disused railway track towards Balquhidder Church and burial-ground, up over the hills to Loch nan Eireannaich and back to the stone circle for another circuit outside the original one.

The second circuit also travels up over the hills to pass close to Loch Larig Eala, then down the modern road to Balquhidder station before belatedly being warped around Balquhidder Church and over the hills to another small lochan, down to the stone circle for the final circuit which crosses the first two via a modern Hydro-Electric suspension tower and an outlying standing stone.

The disused railway line has the first circuit of the powerful energy ley running down it, while the A84 runs roughly parallel and quite close to it on the next circuit. This is where the “working edge” of the ley of the second circuit and its companion waves are, tightly packed together, at the south side of the road, just where Mr. Madison and his wife’s car was. Cup-mark leys have a number of unusual qualities, the most important of which are that they tend to contour around hills but can be pulled up to the tops of quite high hills via lochs which they are attracted to, and also follow the route of least resistance, like roads and railway tracks.

As the reader will understand now, the phenomena could at least partly be explained by information picked up by the first circuit (one of the many trains following the path of the ley in the past), and the occupants of the car somehow tuning in on the nearby second circuit, at a much later date, long after the rail track had been pulled up. Since writing about this story in my book “Ancient Energies of the Earth” (Harper Collins, 1999), I have received further information from others who have also encountered unusual events in this area.

This collection of strange occurrences come from Mr. and Mrs Hardy, of Snaith, Humberside:   

Sunday 8 August 1993,  afternoon:

At 14.30 hrs we left Cultybraggan Camp (Comrie) to go to Ardeonaig to pay the camp site fees and from there we were to travel to Aberfoyle Visitors Centre to pay for mountain bike hire, but had to get there before 15.45 hrs. Already rather tight for time we were further delayed by meeting a loose bull on the road to Ardeonaig.  Then we had to stop for coffee with the campsite Manager.  Obviously as we left the site we were a little agitated as our schedule was collapsing rapidly.   Sue checked the map to give me directions to Aberfoyle and promptly fell asleep.  As I passed a sign directing ‘Oban 5 miles’ I thought I’d better check with Sue as that name had not been mentioned in my directions.  She laughingly told me that we were in totally the wrong direction and to relax as there was no way we could get to Aberfoyle on time.  We therefore turned round and enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Callander planning to ring the ‘mountain bike’ man from our other camp location at Stirling, to apologise and set up another appointment.

As we approached the Aberfoyle turning Sue checked the time to find that it was only 15.15 hrs!  We had time for coffee and a snack before our appointment time. There is no doubt of the time we departed from Cultybraggan as one must ‘book out’ at the Guard Room and we subsequently checked our time of departure from their records. The strange thing was that we didn’t notice anything odd about it at the time.  In fact we did not think of the incident as anything but a stupid navigational error until we looked back on it a couple of years later when we returned to Cultybraggan in 1995. In just 45 minutes we had driven from Comrie to Ardeonaig, detouring to find the owner of the loose bull which took some time, then we had coffee and a chat with the Camp Site Manager, and drove to within 5 miles of Oban, before returning to Aberfoyle (approximately 135 miles, much of it on narrow, hilly, twisting roads).  The odd thing is that I was not driving fast at any time as I was rather tired and going carefully.

Tuesday 15 August 1995  21.30 hrs:

After a very fraught and fractious day, we finally escaped from camp for a meal – the first of the day!  At that time of night the only place we could think of that would still be serving was the Chinese restaurant in Callander.  We relaxed over the meal, recharging our batteries.  It was 23.45 hrs when we left the restaurant – Sue particularly checked to see the time to work out our approximate ETA at camp.  We walked to the car park, collected the car and drove out of Callander heading for Lochearnhead.  The last action of note was Sue drawing my attention to the Moon brilliantly reflected in Loch Lubnaig on the left of the road as we drove toward Lochearnhead.  That was when I saw the sign directing ‘Oban 5 miles’. Sue started to laugh about my navigational skills, but I felt total dread.  I knew that there was no possibility that I had covered the distance between the loch and that sign. The time was only 00.20 hours.  Sue checked and had the same time.  We both recognised the sign which we had both seen 2 years ago.  I was sure that something had happened and we were dead or unconscious, travelling in limbo, so to speak.  Sue had to be quite firm to convince me to turn the car around and start driving back along the road I could not remember having driven up, but must have, somehow, to get where we were.  It seemed to take forever and even when we got to the area we had driven through many times (Lix Toll)  I did not recognise anything. Everything looked strange. There were no cars, not even parked.  There were no lights.  The land and houses were there but not quite as they should be.

As I said, it seemed to take forever, almost as if we were not moving forward at all, but someone was playing a film which was moving past us. The car speedometer was registering between 60 – 70 mph.  As we approached Lochearnhead we drove under a railway bridge which we had never seen before, or since (it was demolished about 1965) and hardly recognised the Lochearnhead/St. Fillans junction which had no street lighting, no white lines and was very narrow.  As we turned in we noticed that Loch Earn was bordered with white picket fencing for most of its length to St Fillans.

It was not until we passed the sign for the Trout Farm near Comrie itself that things quite suddenly became normal, with street and house lights and parked cars – all as it should really be. On booking back into camp at the guard room the time was registered as 02.45 hrs.

  It should be noted that since these two incidents we have driven the road to Oban specifically to study the road in daylight.  We have not found a sign saying OBAN 5 MILES. We have however, located what remains of a demolished railway bridge just to the north of the Lochearnhead junction. We assume this to be the bridge we drove under.  It goes without saying that we have spent many fruitless hours, in fact days, trying to make sense of what occurred on these occasions but with no success. Next time we came to Cultybraggan we were very careful!

 On the 21 August 1997, the night before we were due to go home, I thought we should treat ourselves and go for a run around as we had not had any time to ourselves all camp.  Sue had just found Barry’s Dunford’s book “The Holy Land of Scotland” and it just happened to fall open at a page about Fortingall, so we decided to ‘go see’.

  What a wonderful, peaceful, place!  We arrived just as the light began to leave the day but still had plenty of time to see the standing stones and the ancient Yew tree as well as drink in the atmosphere.

We called at a hotel for a snack before heading back to Comrie along the north side of Loch Tay. As we left the hotel the full moon shone brilliantly, sitting just on top of the hills across the loch.  As we were driving beside the loch Sue called my attention to the moon’s strange reflection in the water.  What she saw were lights deep under the water gradually coalescing to form a greenish globe which appeared to be rising to the surface.  I could see the moon’s reflection and therefore took a moment to realise that what Sue was looking at was nothing to do with the moon.  I saw a greenish globe beneath the surface of the loch about 30-40 feet wide.  It was at the south side at the Killin end.  It appeared to rise slowly to the surface becoming more of a white light and in that state moved slowly westward in the direction of Killin.  It was visible for a number of minutes and then just disappeared.

Friday 6 August 1993  23.00 hrs:

When returning from the direction of Gleneagles where we had had a meal at the Tormaukin Hotel (note only 1 glass of wine!), at approximately 23.00 hrs we came across a strange sight. On the straight bit of road just before the junction with the Crieff road, the entire road was full of a circle of cats.

  It was a little frightening as they didn’t move or indeed take any notice of the car.  I pulled up completely and they just seemed to look at the vehicle and turned back to continue with whatever they were sitting there to do.

There seemed to be a great number of pairs of eyes all sitting in a circle facing the centre.  After what seemed like 4 – 5 minutes they rose and disappeared in various directions.  I would estimate there to have been about 30 – 50 in number.  They appeared to be normal domestic cats although some were larger than one might expect.

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  It is comparatively simple to relate the Ghost Train of Balquhidder to an as yet unknown phenomenon of energy leys, the cat circle to an unusual feline phenomenon, and the green light in Loch Tay to earthlights, but the story of Mr. and Mr. Hardy’s timeslip cannot be easily explained. The road they were travelling along has had numerous changes in width with many corners and blind summits eliminated, so there is no likelihood of them travelling along the modern road under the effects of telluric energy which might have made them “see” the scenery as it was many decades ago.

  If you look at the map you will notice that most of the places where they encountered phenomena are on still active fault lines, (Comrie is the “Earthquake Capital” of the Highlands), and it must be this which can give a clue to these strange occurrences.

The picket fence along Loch Earn is also of interest. I have walked this area for 45 years and there has never been a picket fence like this, and before the road widening/hydro electric schemes, the lochside was covered in dense shrubs, with very few views of the loch.

It is also interesting that it was only when they were a few miles to the west of Comrie that things returned to normal. Comrie has had many small tremors, but one last century was so bad that residents in the town were amazed to see that there was so little structural damage when they ran from their houses, yet a few miles to the west, just where the modern trout farm now is, residents were unaware of any tremors.

  Those involved in these stories are ordinary, down-to-earth people, who are desperately trying to make sense of impossible incidents in their lives. Hopefully, this article will help just a little way to make them understand the bewildering phenomena which visited them.

© 1999 D. Cowan & BSD EEG