The short story below is from Charlie’s jottings file, an undated original MS as is another next week
The Grey Man of Corrieyarrick
Mrs ………., with whom we spent two very pleasant days in Wester Ross, had a fund of interesting experiences to relate. She is an ardent and hardened Pass Stormer, whose chief delight is to push her way into the most remote corners of the Highlands, always with her bicycle, and often in no other company. As a matter of fact, a letter of hers appearing in ‘Cycling’ led us to our disastrous Glen Dessary expedition, but we didn’t hold that against her of course! The kindred spirit thus discovered leads to long and absorbing conversation, in which true stories worth repeating are certain to come out. The story of a strange encounter on the Wade road over Corrieyarrick, for instance.
This was her first crossing of the famous old General Wade road, and she tackled it from Speyside. The last farm of Mealgarbha – and the beginning of the ruined track proper – had been accomplished. Before the final hairpins of the Pass is a ruined bridge near which she saw a man sat by the roadside. He was dressed in Loddden grey, and was apparently airing his feet, as his boots were beside him. Mrs ……….., in response to his greeting, sat down beside him and talked to him of the Corriey-arrick, the black wall of which loomed ahead. He remarked that he could take her a near way… ‘but I’d better not’, he reflected. As she got up to go she gave him a couple of oranges. His final words, as she turned away were, “You’ll reach Fort Augustus at quarter to four”. A moment later she reached the parapetless bridge, and, before crossing, some impulse made her turn round.
There was no-one there !
Her first reaction was of utmost fear, and she quickly put the bridge between herself and whoever it was before she ventured to look again. It was impossible for anyone to hide on the moor which stretched in a long sweep Speywards with no more shelter than the shallow bank at each side. Where had the man in grey, with his boots off his feet gone?
The disturbing question worried her all the long, boggy track over the Pass and down to Fort Augustus, which she reached at exactly quarter to four. What ‘near way’ could there be?
Later she heard that the Grey Man haunts the Corrieyarrick.
Mrs ………….., I might add, is very well known in Scottish cycling circles, and is a member of the Scottish Youth Hostels National Executive Committee. Her husband is treasurer of the SYHA South West regional group.