Have you ever been out hiking and found that when you came down from the fells, you felt that your experience of your walk was not quite as it should have been? Your body feels like you’ve been walking but your memory of the walk is a bit sketchy? We have received an increasing number of accounts like this, to the point that they were causing concern. So we decided to exchange our Lowe Alpine mountain caps for Sherlock Holmes Deer Stalkers and do some amateur sleuthing. We found a shocking truth that we are only now able to reveal…
Dave Albright was one of the hikers who first spoke to us about this mysterious feeling.
For some time I had been planning to go hiking up in the Cairngorms and was really looking forward to it. The first hike that I planned to do was An Socach from Glen Clunie. Travelling there by car, I parked by the plantations on the main A93 road towards the head of Glen Clunie. The weather was fine and dry, so I happily set off on my walk. The next thing I know its 6 hours later and I’m back at the car. My head was feeling a wee bit fuzzy and my recollections of having done a 9.5 mile walk were a bit scant, yet my legs ached like the devil.
Over the following months we realised that Dave’s story was not unique. Since then we have heard of at least a dozen similar accounts of “missing” hikes. There was nothing else for it, we had to go hiking in Scotland and get to the bottom of it.
The Trail to Scotland
Since Dave’s story was the first we heard, we decided to take the same walk. It seemed obvious to us that we should send someone on along trail, on their own, whilst other members of our team observed them from various points along the route. Would we see anything strange happening?
Andy was chosen at random to be our bait. He would start the walk at 10 am, giving two other members of our team time to hide in the vicinity of the start point before hand. Two other members would be following behind Andy, at a discrete distance. We did not have to wait long for the drama to unfold.
Andy had walked no more than 500m when another hiker appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere. The man approached Andy and offered him a drink from his hip flask, from which Andy took a deep draught. As the pair of them reached the farm house we saw the man usher Andy inside. We were worried. What was going on? Was Andy in trouble or was it nothing more than a sample of Highlands hospitality?
Cautiously we moved through the undergrowth towards the farm house. Looking through the windows there was no sign of either Andy or the man, but nothing looked untoward. Then we noticed a trap door in the kitchen which had not been shut properly. Impatient to find out what was going on, we entered the farm house through the unlocked back door…
Gently lifting the trap door we were about to behold a bizarre scene. The generous farm house cellar was full of treadmills. On each treadmill was a dazed looking hiker, strolling purposefully in a world of their own. Andy was among them, walking on a treadmill and looking like a zombie. Unsure what to do next our hand was forced when Gareth clumsily knocked a porcelain cup off the table. As it crashed onto the floor with what seemed like an almighty bang we ran for it.
Without looking back we ran, heading towards the pine trees that formed a small wood near the farm house. Still not sure if we’d been found out, we kept quiet and hid behind a stone shelter covered in foliage. Could we hide in this out-building? Pushing our way through the numerous branches we were eventually gained entry and found more than we bargained for. The answers to our missing hikes were revealed to us. The building was full of boxes marked property of Scottish Micro Electricity Generation (SMEG) and contained packets of tablets labelled RoHykeNol.
We are not sure how long it has been going on for, but now we have the proof that hikers are being drugged and forced to walk for miles on treadmills to generate electricity. Given the small amount of power produced by a hand full of walkers in a farmhouse cellar, it seems that this project could be in an experimental phase. However, this is not the first time that walkers have been targeted for generating electricity. The Ramblers Association plan to generate electricity by placing small generators in their members’ walking boots.
Scottish Micro Electricity Generation
We have approached Scottish Micro Electricity Generation with our findings, they commented off the record that since
people have realised that wind turbines cannot generate power on windless days, that particular government funded gravy train could dry up any time soon. Hikers have long argued against wind turbines because they are a blot on the landscape. So why should we not put hikers to some good use and make them generate power for the rest of us?
On the record, SMEG declined to comment. We have since passed our findings on to the police, who told us not to tell tales. They stated that
no-one likes a grass.
Proceed With Caution
Our advice to all walkers and hikers is to be aware of the situation. Fortunately Andy was returned to us with nothing more than a few blisters and a loss of memory, however we fear others may not be so lucky. Long distance hikers are known to be a particular target since they can be kept for days or weeks at a time without anyone noticing that they are gone. Please be careful what you drink when you are out on trail, we recommend sticking to tea or real ale.