Published 3rd July 2023, 19:26

    THE walls are still standing but the roof is gone, the doors and windows simply gaps in the structure and nature has reclaimed the interior. Time has taken its toll on Luibeilt.

    This Victorian-era stalkers' lodge is just another abandoned building in a lonely glen, another crumbling ruin that will eventually be reduced to little more than a trace of foundations overwhelmed by vegetation.

    But Luibeilt is unlikely to be easily erased from the memory. It has garnered a chilling reputation over the years as anyone who has listened to the excellent BBC Radio 4 podcast series Uncanny will recognise.

    There have been a few eerie tales but the most unsettling testimony came from two climbers from a Glasgow-based club who spent the night there in Christmas 1973. 

    The lodge had long fallen out of use but had remained open and available as an overnight shelter for climbers and hillwalkers. When the pair arrived they noticed dishes in the sink and a table set for dinner complete with Christmas crackers but there was no sign of anyone. They headed off for their snow climb before returning later in the evening.

    All the rooms were furnished apart from one upstairs bedroom, which contained a dismantled bed frame. The curtains were open and there was a large rock on the window sill. They decided to sleep in the living room but were soon disturbed by footsteps and noises coming from the upstairs room. They investigated but found no one. 

    Later, they were wakened yet again by the sound of objects being thrown around the rooms and footsteps on the stairs. Another trepidatory search found nothing. Despite being 4am on a dark winter morning, they decided it was time to get out. As they fled, they looked back to see that the curtains in the upstairs bedroom were now closed.

    One suggestion was that someone had been hiding in the house but the pair were adamant that could not be the case as they would have seen footprints in the snow. Another possible explanation is that they were suffering the effects of tiredness and the extreme cold, which can influence levels of consciousness and judgement.

    One of the men even became convinced that 'something' had followed him home after experiencing a series of strange occurrences in his flat. He later returned to Luibeilt to try to prove to himself that there was a rational explanation, but had an even more terrifying night.

    Luibeilt sits in the middle of the empty moorland between Loch Treig and Kinlochleven and it's a few hours' trek in from either direction. As I was staying at Loch Ossian with friends, I decided to visit the lodge during a solo circuit from Corrour, taking in the Corbett, Glas Bheinn, and returning via Loch Chiarain, a total distance of more than 36 kilometres.

    After three hours over some tough ground in stifling heat, I arrived at lonely Meanach bothy, a welcome base for a bit of rest and recovery. About 300 metres away, across the waters of the Abhainn Rath, was Luibeilt. There was no air of menace, although it may have been a different story had I visited on a cold, dark night and full moon complete with rustling trees and animal noises rather than a day of brilliant sunshine and long light.

    The building is little more than a shell, and I took time to explore, although I didn't spend too much time inside: the remaining roof beams were hanging precariously, too easy for a poltergeist to drop something on my head.

    There was a meagre stand of huge trees to the left, with another one having being torn out of the ground fairly recently, presumably by storms. But it turned out I wasn't the only curious rowan there that day – to the right was a strange tree that looked to have grown an extra leg. Since ancient times, rowans are believed to have had protective powers to ward off evil spirits, and this one looked to be marching towards the offending house as though to push it away.

    I managed to leave the house behind and emerged unscathed, although I did later suffer from a bout of heatstroke with the day's exertions. At least, I believe it was heatstroke. The spinning head, the projectile vomiting, that visited me later, who knows? Maybe just too much exorcise.

    Some of our party at Corrour had expressed uneasiness at the thought of visiting Luibeilt, with one in particular asking: “Whatever possessed you to go there?” The concern really should have been whatever possessed me while I was there.

    I had been warned not to return with an extra passenger, but I suspect that was more down to the fact that most didn't fancy having to pay up for an extra drink every round. After all, the demon drink is always to be feared. 

    *Here are the links to the Luibeilt story and to the relevant Uncanny podcast episodes.