Tuesday, August 11, 2015


What a pleasant scene.  A gentle downhill slope as the road meanders through the Ayrshire countryside.   But all is not what it seems, for this scene has both enchanted and puzzled me for many years.   It`s the Electric Brae, a quarter of a mile stretch of the A719 near to the Scottish town of Ayr and it`s here that the laws of gravity appear to operate in reverse, for what you see in the photo above is, in fact, the road going uphill.

So what`s going on?   How can it be that motorists regularly pull up at this spot, turn off their engines, disengage their handbrakes and marvel as their cars apparently roll uphill? Magnetic fields?  Minerals in the rich coastal soil?  Faeries or some other unknown phenomenon?  Sadly none of these, but rather the fact that whilst the road is on a hill with a gradient of 1 on 86, the surrounding landscape tricks the eye into believing that you are heading downhill when you are actually going uphill or believing that you are going uphill when you are really going down.

The road has baffled travellers from far and wide for years, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower who visited the Brae when staying at Prestwick during the Second World War. And so it`s a shame in a way that science - the scourge of imagination - has come up with the answer.   Here it is:-

Despite which, it`s one of those places I must visit before it`s too late.


Ray Turner said...

I've noticed a milder version of this effect on some other roads. It can be very disorienting.

I agree that it sounds like a good place to visit...!

Snopper said...

Thanks, Ray. Apparently there are quite a lot of these `deceptive` roads throughout the world, including the UK but this one seems to be the most renowned