No sooner had I written in glowing terms about Scotland’s advanced access laws compared to England and Wales,that I read on Andy Wightman’s blog about an appalling situation in Wester Ross. For the full story, read Andy’s blog and the attached comments. However, in a nutshell, a Yorkshire company, Rainheath Ltd-(registered address-North Hill, Dishforth, Thirsk)- which attributes 96% ownership to a Andrew Simpson, purchased the Ledgowan shooting estate,for £2.5m in 2011. This is in addition to another estate they own; the 2000 acre Rossie Ochil Estate, just south of Perth.It appears the Ledgowan Estate is actively pursuing a policy which seeks to prevent access on its estate; note this recent entry in Highland and Island Council committee minutes:
Country 'Sport':Photo Murdo Macload-The Guardian
A photo was shown of the padlocked gates at Ledgowan. Mr Tom Forrest had walked this path and had come across a young man from Ledgowan Estate. On being asked the man had instructed Mr Forrest that he couldn’t walk there at the moment as he had sheep in the field with lambs. On asking if he could get access from the other end at the lodge he was told no, but that maybe he could get access through the hotel. A woman had also reported that on walking this path the keeper had put her off going through the gates. There had been considerable correspondence between a Council solicitor and the owners regarding primarily the old road but other gates on the Estate had also been mentioned. The old road obstructions had been removed with the police in attendance. Eight of 15 gates to the the hills were locked, three of which were on tracks. The Estate had insisted on one of the locked gates remain so to prevent rustling.. The access officer had informed them they would need to provide a small side gate or at very least a stile to enable access rights.
More recently, Doctor Kenneth Brown of Glen Moriston was accosted by Richard Simpson, a particularly aggressive member of this feudal sub species,who apart from photographing the good doctor and his wife and noting their car number, subjected them to a torrent of hostile questioning. Informing them that their very presence was damaging the environment. This from a representative of a family who have gouged a bloody big ugly track across a mountainside! (See Pic)
Presumably to enable the estate’s rotund clients to get their fat arses up on the hill from where they can waddle into a position to take shots at the local wildlife. I would imagine getting up on the hill on their own two feet would be next to impossible for these tweedy buffoons.
This incident reminded me of the Wilderness Walk’s episode, presented by Cameron MacNeish where he and David Craig were walking on the Knoydart Peninsular. David recountered an experience in the Scottish hills when he was stopped by a crusty relic in a Land Rover and summoned over by a hooked finger..... ‘And what are you doing on my mountain?’ asked the plummy toned fossil. To which David offered his thoughts which ended with him declaring ‘I find it hard to understand how one man can own a mountain!’ At which point the landowner replied ‘ You sound like one of these Communists!’ and drove off in high dudgeon. When David finished his tale, after a short pause Cameron replied...'and he’d be right of course!’ which I found amusing.
With knuckleheaded relics like the Simpsons running private estates in the manner of medieval fiefdoms you have to think...those Bolsheviks had a point about the landowning aristocracy!