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Ben Alder Cottage Report


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cragrat09
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Joined: 3 Feb 2010

I mentioned several months ago that I would be visiting Ben Alder Cottage, a mountain bothy on the shores of Loch Ericht in Scotland, as part of a college expedition. The cottage is said to be haunted by the ghost of a gamekeeper called McCook, who worked for the Alder Estate, that hung himself in the cottage. However, no date is given for this event, and McCook apparently retired to Newtonmore. Apparently, strange lights and noises can be seen and heard within the cottage.

I stayed in the cottage along with 4 other people in my group. 5 more of my group camped outside the cottage in tents. Also on the first night (18th-19th May 2010) there was 3 other people camping outside and 2 others sleeping indoors. On the second night (19th-20th May 2010) there was 1 other individual camping outside the cottage.

The cottage is made up of a porch and a corridor linking 3 rooms. The left hand room contains a raised sleeping platform and a wood burning stove. The middle room contains a bunk bed and the right hand room contains an open fire, a table and some chairs. Each room has one window. Me and one other from my group slept in the right hand room, three others from my group slept in the left hand room. On the first night (18th-19th May 2010), two other people slept in the middle room. On the second night 19th-20th May 2010), the middle room was vacant.

Upon arriving at the cottage, (18th May 2010) One of my group, “V”, felt a sense of unease within the cottage. This however, may have been due to the fact that the cottage looks slightly creepy and is in a very remote location. The fact that “V” believes in the paranormal and already knew about the cottage’s reputation may also have been factors. Apart from this, nothing unusual happened on the first night (18th-19th May 2010)

On the morning of the 20th May 2010, “V” told me that during the night, she had woken up to feel a draft on her face. She claimed that she was sleeping in the same place as the previous night in the left hand room and that she could not feel the draft anywhere else. “V” woke “A” who was sleeping next to her and asked him if he could feel the draft. “A” said that he could not, but upon placing his hand in front of “V’s” face, he could feel the draft. “V” is convinced that the draft was unnatural. However, as mentioned above, she strongly believes in the paranormal and did not look for a rational explanation before jumping to an irrational conclusion. The wind on the night of 19th-20th May 2010 was considerably stronger than on the previous night. This could have produced the draft that was perhaps not created or noticed on the first night (18th-19th May 2010) Also, no one else experienced anything unusual, other than “A”, who believes the draft had a natural cause. Personally, I also believe the draft has a rational explanation.

Due to there being very little detail about whether McCook really did hang himself at Ben Alder Cottage, plus the lack of solid paranormal evidence, I am willing to say that Ben Alder Cottage is not haunted.
In the guest book, the most recent entry when we arrived was from two of the individuals camping outside. It read “…camping outside so not to disturb any ghosts or ghoolies…”. While obviously a bit of a joke as they certainly know about the cottage’s reputation, next time someone reads the guest book, they could misinterpret this entry as being serious. Perhaps this is how the idea of the cottage being haunted came about. Someone may have wrote in the guest book about having a paranormal encounter that was entirely fictional and the next person to read it misinterpreted the entry. Or perhaps someone wrote about a factual paranormal encounter that really had a rational explanation. The back story about McCook could have been added at a later date.

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BaronIveagh
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

Hmm... good write up, though if the cotage isn't too large, you might also have tried covering it with a camera or two.  Beyond that...

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cragrat09
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Joined: 3 Feb 2010
Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

Thanks Baronlveagh! This is the first report I have ever done, so I'm sure there's a lot of room for improvement. As the main objective of the trip was to complete the planned expedition, I didn't go kitted out for a detailed investigation (I lack the necessary equipment anyway). Though I do wish I had at least taken some photographs of the inside of the cottage, as that would have helped to explain the layout much better. It would be great to go back and carry out a more detailed investigation, though the cottage is very isolated (we took 1 1/2 days paddling to get to it! But walking from the other side would be quicker.) and you can't garantee you would have the place to yourself either.

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Daniel Parkinson
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

Great write up- might be worth trying to trace when the ghost story first appeared in print.
DP

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Stephen Clementson
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

 I have some difficulty with the archaic concepts evoked in the use of the term ‘haunted’.  The fact that my wife and I have now lived in three consecutive ‘haunted’ houses would, if taken at face value, be a remarkable coincidence.  A better hypothesis would be to say that we are ‘haunted’, and that both of us have been individually haunted for a very long time.  Indeed, bizarre things have happened to us both whilst we have not been together, and whilst definitely not at home. 

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cragrat09
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

Thanks DP! Thats another thing I wish I had done in hindsight - read through the guestbook for other mentions of the paranormal. I do, however, have more information that may disprove the haunting. Joseph McCook passed away in Newtonmore in 1933 and did not hang himself at the cottage. Also in the 1930's, the empty cottage became a popular spot with deer poachers. In an attempt to scare them off, Finlay MacIntosh, then head keeper of the Alder Estate, along with Ian MacPherson, the novelist, invented and spread the story of the suicide and haunting.

Interesting ideas Stephen. The paranormal is a bizarre and little understood topic, and I am sure that this is why we are all here - to share are ideas, theories and experiences, and try to come up with an explaination for the things that "go bump in the night". I know Poltergeist activity is usually focused around an individual. Whether that means it follows the individual from dwelling to dwelling, I don't know. It may also be a completely different phenomenon all together.

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Stephen Clementson
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

 Dear Cragrat09,
 
Greetings...the things that I have observed over the years are, to say the very least, bizarre.  For this reason, I tend to view the paranormal in an altogether unorthodox manner.  This has resulted in outright rejections of my statements, for some very diverse, and typically conflicting, reasons.  I understand that everybody has their own belief, which they hold to be sacrosanct.  But some of my personal phenomena reports are duty bound to exceed, or break, taboo limitations.
 
For instance, one report, involving the mysterious disappearance of my wife’s handbag in 1993, had an equally bamboozling outcome in 1996.  The disappearance of the handbag-from the back of a YMCA charity shop-had been immediately reported to the police, and the bank card was cancelled.  Please note that there were bars at the window in back of the shop, and that the rear door was locked.  No attempt was ever made to use the bank card, and nothing more was heard about the handbag. 
 
Then, in 1996, I just happened to walk into the bedroom and there I saw the contents of the handbag strewn on the bed.  Apart from the handbag itself, the only things missing were the photographic negatives and prints of a mysterious UFO that were taken in Hampshire in September 1992.  Another strange feature was the fact that we’d moved house in 1995.  We’d moved right across town. Curiously, the negatives turned up at a later date.

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indiagold
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

to craigrat and friends
I am very pleased to see that we have a bit of accuracy in terms of the sitings of the rooms and the timings.
we need to know these details if we want to crack hauntings
well done
India

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Proterra
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

A bit late, but having just joined I will add my own experience of the cottage. Much has been written about the cottage in various outdoor books, if you would like me to find these for you I'd happily oblige. The Mountain Bothy Association also has a regular newsletter which I am sure has mentioned both Ben Alder Cottage and other reputedly haunted bothies elsewhere.

A few years ago, in late autumn/early winter, I walked in to the bothy from Loch Rannoch to the south, along with a friend. There was no-one else staying in the bothy or camping outside, possibly because the weather was poor. I had one of the aforementioned books with me and while spending the evening in front of the fire chatting and watching the antics of the bothy mouse, I then went on to read my friend the story of the bothy. When getting to the bit about the hanging, I looked upwards and pointed out the hook, still attached to the ceiling! I think there is a hook in all the rooms, just for the purposes of storytelling!

Later, just as we were retiring to our sleeping bags around midnight, we heard someone walking up to the front door. Steady footsteps in the gravel were quite clear and we both looked over to the window at the same time, surprised to hear someone arrive at such a late hour. When no-one entered, I went out to check they were okay, and could find no evidence of anyone outside or walking nearby. A passing sheep would not have got far, and I think a deer running past would have sounded completely different. Deer in the vicinity would also have looked towards my torchlight and I would have seen their eyes reflect in the light. Besides, deer are nervous creatures and I can't imagine one coming so close to the cottage. So I left that one as unexplained. It is not completely impossible that it was an animal, but at the time we were totally convinced it was human.

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Ian Topham
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Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

Hi Proterra, welcome to Mysterious Britain :).  What was the weather like that night, sometimes rain could sound strange on gravel and was on at least one investigation I was involved in mistaken for footfalls.

I'll have to visit this bothy one day.

cragrat09
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Joined: 3 Feb 2010
Re: Ben Alder Cottage Report

I have done a little more research into the cottage and found that the bothy used to be a popular hang out for deer poachers. The head keeper of the Alder estate began circulating the rumour that his predecessor hung himself in the cottage and his ghost now haunts the place in an effort to scare away the poachers. Other rather unnerving stories also had their origin around this time, probably trying to force a similar effect. One story states that during a particularly harsh winter, a young mother became snowed-in at the cottage. Starving, she ate her new-born baby to stay alive. It is reported that she was seen later, walking in the direction of Dahlwinnie, with mad-staring eyes.

Thats an interesting account Proterra. I also noticed the hooks in the ceiling and almost laughed out at how easily they could be connected to the hanging story.



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