The Electric Brae

The Electric Brae

One of the strangest natural phenomenons in the world can be found on a section of the otherwise unremarkable A719 road in the west coast of Scotland. Set in the rolling valleys of Ayrshire, The Electric Brae is an attractive, but fairly average, hill. Yet traffic jams frequently form at the bottom as owners exit their cars to view the unusual sight of their vehicle apparently being pulled uphill by some completely unseen force.

The name is derived from the local Scottish term for a sloping hill (a brae) and the belief that the vehicles were once pulled up the hill by a mysterious kind of electric or magnetic current. After years of scientific testing most now believe that the real cause of the occurrence is an optical illusion known as a ‘gravity hill’ where the composition of the nearby scenery and angle of the hill create the impression that the hill is angled upwards when it is in fact going downhill. Some mischief-making local children have been known to occasionally cause problems by rolling their footballs ‘uphill’ and straight into the path of oncoming traffic. Care is therefore advised when stopping here as many cars and other vehicles pay no attention to the spectacle and drive through at great speed.

The Electric Brae

flickr image by Richard Szwejkowski

The most popular route to see the best of The Electric Brae, or Croy Brae as it is known to locals, is on the road leading from the picturesque town of Maybole to the south. Leave from here bearing north and you will arrive at the bottom of the hill, allowing you to experience the full strength of the illusion. The other way to test the illusion is to stand at the top of the hill and attempt to push your car towards the bottom of the hill with the unnatural result being that your car will pull itself upwards against all logic.

Even stranger than the spectacle itself are the tales of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former American President and frequent visitor to the area in the years after the Second World War, who used to invite his friends and fellow army commanders to view this bizarre natural phenomenon. So popular was the strange occurrence that during WWII, buses full of American Soldiers who were stationed nearby used to arrive to roll any object they could find up this small hill. Some time later General Eisenhower was awarded the title of Freeman of Maybole, a move that encouraged him to declare himself “a true Minnieboler, if not by birth, at least by adoption”.

The town of Maybole itself is also a recommended stop over point as it is a pristine example of the charming Ayrshire lifestyle which is far less visible in the expanding towns of Mauchline and Ayr nearby. Many people take the opportunity to visit both The Electric Brae and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in the nearby town of Alloway- the birth town of the famous Scottish poet. Whatever you do whilst here, there are few things in the world that are so surprising.

Date posted: 23rd December, 2014

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