Ben Alder Cottage Report
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.