Ramblers Scotland has responded to a recent report in the West Highland Free Press relating to a new access policy issued by Ledgowan estate in Achnasheen. The report claims that, under the new policy, walkers are likely to be stopped and asked for their name and address, and if these are not forthcoming, photographs of the walkers and/or their vehicles will be taken. While this is said to be in response to recent thefts and poaching incidents, Ramblers Scotland condemns the apparent lack of respect for Scotland’s access legislation which gives duties on landowners to take proper account of the interests of persons exercising access rights across their land.
Helen Todd, Campaigns& Policy Manager at Ramblers Scotland said: “Ledgowan estate has been known to us for a number of years, following reports of intimidatory behaviour and obstructions, such as locked gates, on this estate. It is frustrating that the behaviour of this one landowner has tied up the local authority and local access forum for countless hours while they have to deal with the many complaints, when they should be free to positively promote access in the area. This particular landowner is refusing to recognise his obligations under the land reform legislation , unlike the vast majority of landowners in Scotland.
“It is not illegal for landowners and their employees to take photographs of walkers, but walkers are under no obligation to give their contact details to anyone except a police officer. If they feel threatened or intimidated while walking responsibly on the estate, they should call the police, as we advised in guidance jointly published last year with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS).”
“We encourage people to continue walking on this estate, in a responsible way, as to avoid the area would be to give in to bullying tactics.”
The MCofS issued the following statement: “We would like to remind members that you are not obliged to supply these details to anyone other than the police and, although estate staff are not necessarily breaking the law to take photographs of walkers, if you consider that you have been intimidated by any landowner then you should dial 101 and report the matter to the police.”