A survey of access problems on a Glen Lyon estate is being carried out by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. Long-running problems on the North Chesthill Estate have seen a steady stream of complaints from hill walkers who feel they have been obstructed from their legal right of responsible access.
Besides being internationally renowned for its beauty, the glen is also home to a popular circuit of four Munros – mountains over 3000 feet – but at the most popular starting point for the walk a gate is regularly locked and signs imply that access is forbidden.
Perth & Kinross Council, which has the legal duty of enforcing access rights, has held discussions with the estate owner but so far failed to solve the problems faced by walkers, who have complained over a number of years about locked gates, intimidating and misleading signs.
Now the MCofS has started an online survey, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GlenLyonSurvey to gauge the extent of the problem and give the council ammunition for any future action.
Towards the end of 2013 the MCofS wrote to the local MSP, John Swinney, asking him to take action in view of the lack of progress achieved by Perth & Kinross Council.
MCofS Chief Officer David Gibson said then: “The North Chesthill Estate has been restricting the statutory right of access for many years.
“Perth and Kinross Council (PKC), the Perth and Kinross Outdoor Access Forum (PKOAF), Ramblers Scotland and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland have all been involved in discussions with the owner but he still continues to lock gates and erect signs stating “Deer management in progress – please walk elsewhere”. The locked gates and signs effectively close the whole estate to access.”
“In effect, the landowner is being allowed to prohibit access and responsible walkers are being denied their statutory rights,” said Mr Gibson.
“Our members and other hill walkers are becoming increasingly frustrated by this blatant flouting of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and that is why we wrote to Mr Swinney. We had hoped that he would intervene to see that the law is upheld but his response was brief, and simply copied us in on
the correspondence he had received from the local authority and access forum. Given his previous support for the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, we would have hoped for stronger support.
And he reminded Mr Swinney, who is also Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government: “Many walkers travel a significant distance to access the hills and in 2009 the value to the Scottish economy from walking tourism was estimated to be
£533 million per year.”
According to Scottish Natural Heritage the overall contribution to the Scottish economy from all field sports (game shooting, deer stalking and angling) is £136 million a year.