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Loch Quoich parking charge

Loch Quoich parking charge


Postby Chris258 » Wed Sep 22, 2021 9:07 pm

Briefly, I was asked for a £10 overnight parking fee at Loch Quoich (did not pay). Although I have my doubts, I wish to know if this request for an overnight fee is legally enforceable? And perhaps of greater concern, wonder if this a sign of things to come in some areas of Scotland if estates erect parking notices?

Here's what happened ...
Last weekend I drove up to Loch Quoich for a couple of days walking. I parked on a small area of level ground a couple of hundred metres east of the dam, by the track that splits off to the lower part of the dam. Just before 8pm a Land Rover arrived and pulled up close to my car, and the stalker introduced himself. I was told that I was on private land and was asked to either move on from the spot, or pay a £10 fee to park there overnight. I was also told I could walk or pitch my tent anywhere in the glen for free (ha!), but the car had to be paid for. The land is owned by East Kingie Estate, and I was told I could park overnight at the dam because the small car park there is owned by SSE, but other spots would face a £10 charge, unless I travel a few miles further west until I was off East Kingie and onto West Kingie's patch.

I laughed and disputed the request, then moved on to another spot, and did not pay. The stalker told me that he had been charging since last summer and had only had three refusals to pay the fee. I'm assuming the stalker was acting on the estate's behalf (as he stated), and not his own.

There are no signs in the glen informing of designated parking areas, parking charges, or penalty fine, or contact phone number or even the name of the owner/Estate. I am no legal expert, hence my post here, but with the absence of any notices about fees or warnings, then I suspect that cold-calling strangers for money is not enforceable and if approached for a payment then walkers should refuse to pay, as things stand. Am I wrong?

The Estate's, and stalker's issue here is campervans and motorhomes (and I guess some cars too). Apparently, they drive up the glen for a night, leave their mess, and disappear the next day. He did comment that hillwalkers are usually ok, but this somewhat dodges a wider issue. I have great sympathy with the stalker and the estate on this issue, and understand why they wish to charge, although I disagree. Coincidently, only two nights later I found an overnight spot in Perthshire where someone had dumped their portable/motorhome toilet waste.

Just to be clear here, I had no issue with the stalker, who was not rude or intimidating. I met him again later that evening and we chatted amicably the best part of an hour on all things hills, stalking, walking and stuff. My issue is the seemingly cold-call policy of an unwarned overnight car parking fee by the estate; is it enforceable?
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Skyelines » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:03 am

Non payment of a parking fee on private land is a civil matter so to enforce the payment the land owner would have to take you to a civil court. Considering the time and cost to do so for a small amount would probably not make economic sense so unlikely to be pursued.

I would guess that the land owner's case would have to be fairly strong to achieve success anyway. I imagine that the land owner should have given prior notice to the potential parkers that a charge was payable and that anyone asking for the payment should be adequately identifiable as a representative of the owner would be a minimum requirement.

If someone with no verifiable credentials asks you for money for whatever reason then it is not unreasonable to refuse. If this was the grounds of a case taken to court I can't imagine that it would have much success.

Parking off the road invariably means parking on private land. I believe that the ownership of land includes the soil under any road that passes over it even if the road is public and maintained by the highway authority unless the land on which the road runs has been purchased by the authority.
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Moriarty » Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:40 am

The absence of any signage would effectively preclude any argument that you had entered into a contract with the estate to pay for your access to the parking spot.

I think the best they could achieve would be to seek your removal from parking on land to which you had no right of motorised access, that wouldn't be achievable until long after you had left.


Chris258 wrote:I was told that I was on private land and was asked to either move on from the spot, or pay a £10 fee to park there overnight......

..........I laughed and disputed the request, then moved on to another spot, and did not pay.


You didn't dispute the request - you obeyed the request, which was to either pay up or move on. If you'd had a couple of beers and were unable to drive I think you could have refused to do either, but it can be a bit unsettling having the confrontation.
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Phil the Hill » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:02 pm

I'm an English not a Scottish lawyer, but I'd guess that the legal analysis is that you had no right to park your car overnight on their private land. The stalker (as an employee of the Estate) therefore offered you a contract to be granted permission to park overnight for £10, or if you did not accept asked you to move on (failing which you would be trespassing). There is no need for a sign with this approach. You declined to accept the offer of a contract, and moved on. Another option would have been to attempt to negotiate the terms, by say making a counter-offer to pay £5 as you were only a car not a motorhome. Possibly you could have parked on the public highway rather than their land, though this could be tricky as you indicate.
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Inverasdale » Fri Sep 24, 2021 2:28 pm

I think you did well not to pay, though at least the stalker was civil and suggested alternatives. Perhaps the lesson is not to camp beside your car, I doubt there would have been any issue with an unattended car.

I think the farmer at Kilfinnan nr Loch Lochy used to try to charge all cars for verge parking, day or night? IIRC old versions of the SMC Munro guide had a warning on this.

Andy Wightman's site (whoownsscotland) shows all the land north of the Gearr Garry outflow (where you were) as belonging to Glenshiel, Cluanie & Easter Glen Quoich estate, rather than the Kingie estates?
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby gaffr » Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:21 am

I am sure that the previous poster is correct. The Kingie folks are the most civil that you could wish to meet. I have met them a few years back.
Also although houses are on the north side of the Loch the stalking grounds are across the Loch and are reached mainly by boat.
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby AJ01 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 10:29 am

With the caveat that my knowledge is of English, not Scottish law, I would expect that the area of verge between the metalled surface of a public highway and a boundary fence or hedge is part of the public highway and therefore in normal circumstances available to be parked on free of charge, and the adjacent property owner has no right to charge parking fees. (This distinction would be difficult or even impossible to make if there was no boundary fence alongside the road. Also, from experience I am well aware that it can be very difficult when at the end of a dead-end-road to see where the public highway ends and a private access track starts if there is no gate, and the yellow coloration on an OS map may not be totally reliable.)

Where a private access track meets a public highway, the boundary between public highway and private property is judged to follow a line drawn between the boundary fences on either side of the access track. This is why, in the instance of parking tickets issued under the Clearway designation in Glen Lyon as discussed in another thread, some cars in a line parked in the wide entrance to an access track were issued with parking tickets because they were judged by the officer concerned to be on the verge of the public highway (and therefore contravening the Clearway) while other cars parked further along the line away from the road were judged to be on the side of the private access track and therefore not issued with tickets. I would expect the same distinction to be judged when applying the Clearway designation which I understand has been applied to sections of the A82 since the last time I was in that area. Without more detailed information I am unable to comment on the situation described by the OP at Loch Quoich.

My understanding is based on the belief that when a public highway is determined, the land for it is purchased by the relevant highway authority, including verges (if they exist) up to a boundary fence or hedge, but I was interested to read in the post by 'Skyelines' that this might not be the case, and that the landowner might retain ownership of the land over which the public highway runs, even if the highway authority is responsible for maintenance, and can apply Clearway orders. It had never occurred to me that there might be a mis-match between the existence of a public highway and public ownership of the land on which that highway exists, and it would seem odd to me that the highway authority could ban parking on the verge of a highway if that verge was private property.

I would be very interested in gaining a detailed and accurate understanding of this matter, and whether it is different in Scotland and England. Though perhaps it's something of a grey area?

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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Skyelines » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:16 am

From what I have gleaned from a brief search is that "highway" is a designation of an area of land over which the public has the right of passage and it is not in itself a definition of ownership. This right of passage may or may not include the verge as well as the metalled surface. It would seem there is a presumption that the width of the highway extends to the fences on either side of the carriageway however on unfenced roads the matter is less clear. Application of TROs re parking would extend to all the land defined as highway, including verges if applicable.
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Chris258 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:32 am

Some interesting replies to my initial query.

I don't think I'm any wiser about the legal strength of enforcing a surprise overnight charge, and would probably refuse to pay again, albeit I do sympathise with Kingie's reasoning. The bit that concerns me is the absence of parking notices about fees, an ownership contact number, and of course what hours of the day constitute an overnight stay? If the stalker was legitimately allowed to collect overnight fees then some sort of verifiable ID should be shown. If I knew this information beforehand then I would pay, because it would be my choice to enter the estate overnight with those details.

Inverasdale/Gaffr: The stalker told me he was from Kingie, and I seem to recall from our conversation him telling me that the Estate boundary ran along the north side of Quoich. My understanding was that all the spots that people chose to park-on along the road until the end of East Kingie's boundary, were subject to the £10 overnight charge (on road, or off road). Again, the only spot exempt from the charge was the small square car park at the dam which is apparently owned by SSE.

I guess the take home message at the moment is for prospective Loch Quoich walkers to be aware that if they wish to stay overnight and have a vehicle then they may receive a visitor - hey ho!
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:25 am

The estate probably isn't too concerned about parking and would just rather campervans, especially, weren't messing up the glen which is understandable. If you are camping in that area (in a tent) it doesn't take much effort to make it out of sight of the road. I'm guessing the stalker would be fairly happy the news is being spread around sites like this if it deters even a few roadside campers.

I was up that way earlier this year and there was a couple of instances of unsavoury camping by the roadside.

I went right to the end of the road at Kinloch Hourn, the only part of that road where they charge for parking. £2.50 per night and an honesty box which doesn't seem too intrusive to be fair. If the car park caretaker looked at the demographics of the modern day hill walker he could probably charge anything he liked. :D
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Broon2365 » Thu Sep 30, 2021 10:24 am

If the stalker is acting on the estates business I am sure that the stalker will have a book of receipts to give out when he is paid, allowing the estate to properly log the financial transaction in their accounts.

surely that should be the correct method? :D
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby iain_atkinson_1986 » Thu Sep 30, 2021 10:33 am

Broon2365 wrote:If the stalker is acting on the estates business I am sure that the stalker will have a book of receipts to give out when he is paid, allowing the estate to properly log the financial transaction in their accounts.

surely that should be the correct method? :D


I wonder if they do Freedom of Information requests?

:lol:
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Broon2365 » Thu Sep 30, 2021 4:00 pm

Surely if someone from walking Highlands and not just some random bagger asked the estate they would set the record straight?
If no receipt no pay would be my advice.
I'd be happy to pay if it's all legitimate but I think it's not :shock:
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:38 pm

Broon2365 wrote:Surely if someone from walking Highlands and not just some random bagger asked the estate they would set the record straight?
If no receipt no pay would be my advice.
I'd be happy to pay if it's all legitimate but I think it's not :shock:


Hi Broon 2365, that is a classic response and could be straight out of the mountaineer scotland hymn book. :D

The estate would love that sort of feedback. If the majority of people are happy to pay £10 where does that end. What if the estate says its £20 or £30.
I know the answer to this. Hillwalkers will go elsewhere..... until the same tactics are used there. Roadside campers going elsewhere is the ultimate goal for the estate I would think, and parting the ones that are left from their money is just an added bonus.

I'm not sure how all these £10 fees are paid for at the moment when many people don't carry cash. :?

My advice would be don't camp beside your car on a road - I don't see the fun of that anyway...
... but if you really have to don't take the £10 with you. :D
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Re: Loch Quoich parking charge

Postby Scraggygoat » Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:53 pm

Mountaineering Scotland Hymn book is to be a mouth piece of the Scottish government and pretend that they represent us. I note they said in their last email news letter that they had been involved at Quoich but funnily enough didn’t say anymore. Timid.

Ramblers Scotland seam to have more spine at the moment.

It doesn’t help that the likes of Cambert Mcpish have promoted this road as a good place for that oxymoron of ‘wild campervanning’.
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