Highlands & Islands

Water level rises at mysteriously-draining Cairngorms loch

Boathouse at Loch Vaa Image copyright Loch Vaa
Image caption The water level has risen slightly at Loch Vaa, but only after days of rain

The level at a loch mysteriously losing millions of gallons of water has risen, but only after almost 40 days of rain.

Loch Vaa, near Aviemore, is fed by a spring and its usually water-lapped boathouse has been a popular subject for photographers and artists.

But its lease-holders reported in May that its level had dropped by 1.4m (4.5ft) since September last year.

They have now said an estimated 37 days when it has rained for all or part of the day has raised the level slightly.

Since September, the Cairngorms loch had mysteriously lost an estimated 35 million gallons of water.

Image copyright Brian O'Donnell
Image caption It was estimated 35 million gallons of water had been lost between September last year and May this year

This led to concerns about a crannog - a fortified settlement constructed on an artificial island in the loch.

An archaeologist has examined the site and found ancient timbers used in its construction remain safely preserved underwater.

Samples taken from the crannog are to be tested and could date the site to medieval times, though archaeologists have recently discovered other crannogs to be much older than previously thought.

Image copyright Neil McDade/Spectacular Scotland
Image caption The boathouse at Loch Vaa in an image taken by Neil McDade, top, at normal water level and, bottom, an image taken mid-May this year

Loch Vaa is available to the local community and visitors for recreational fishing.

Brian O'Donnell, who is involved in managing the loch, said in May that the dramatic drop in water level was like somebody pulling a plug.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) suggested that Loch Vaa had suffered due to a "relatively dry" winter.

Scottish Water countered claims it might be responsible by saying that an underground aquifer and boreholes that supplied water to the Badenoch and Strathspey area were located about three miles (6km) upstream of Loch Vaa, and too far away to affect it.

Image copyright Loch Vaa
Image caption A wild swimmer enjoying Loch Vaa in recent days

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