Yesterday I went to Ledgown Estate with a few friends to walk, this Estate has been in the news recently after a few problems were raised about access for walkers. The estate is about one hours drive from Inverness and is near the village of Achnasheen. The problems have been well written about by many and I felt it was time I went for myself to see what they were. The day started off with a break down of my friend’s car outside Nairn but two other pals picked us up and we were soon at Achnasheen. We walked in a group of 10 and set off from the village, I wanted to see the impact of the Estate road which I have written about in the past and how the access was to get on the hills? The right of access is a thing to be cherished and one must try to see both sides of the discussion? As we crossed the road two cars stopped and wished us the best on our walk and gave us a local view of their thoughts, no names were given as many rely on the Estate for employment. Interesting to see the local interest.
We passed the big house and the Estate workers were friendly busy butchering a stag. Access to the track was across some wet boggy moorland and we were soon on the track. The track is now a hideous part of the scenery and is used to allow the Estate guests access for various activities up on the moorland and loch. The Estate runs the usual shoots and also “wild life safaris” using this access track. The usual notices were on the gates about stalking and care of the land. The weather was poor at times and we met about another 20 people who were out for a walk. We had a few discussions on route, locals were also walking. The track was a lot bigger than I imagined and it will be interesting to see how it copes with the winter storms and floods.
There has been problems in the past as the Estate has a security policy which to me after 30 odd years in the military seems excessive? Photos have been taken of walkers at times and most of the gates have been locked on the Estate. The estate say this is due to thefts of equipment, animals and for security of guests that come from all over the world. We had no problems a bit more signage directing may help to assist walkers onto the correct routes? During the Stalking season just saying that the hills are close due to stalking is not good enough in these days. More on these problems may help?
Walkers have to help and understand that we have to work together, I understand the problems about dogs and wild life and the Estates worries. also the dangers in the hills during the Stalking season. Modern day living has brought new problems, thefts, rustling are now part of modern life on an estate and they have to safeguard their livelihood. I do not understand why the threat to security is such to guests – this is Achnasheen not Libya?
My view is that this wonderful land is not just for the rich few to enjoy, but it is to be shared by all and looked after for future generations. I think the problems at Ledgowan are not over by along way?
I will be interested to see how Highland Council get on once the publicity dies down?
Lots of work to do for the future!