Ramblers launch £82k legal fight over Ardnamurchan Estate access

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Ramblers Scotland has embarked on what it is calling a ‘landmark’ court battle over blocked access to a footpath on Ardnamurchan Estate.

The charity, which says it faces legal costs of up to £82,000 in its fight over the Glenborrodale to Acharacle path, has launched a crowdfunder appeal to support its work on this and other legal cases.

The path is on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and offers stunning views of Loch Sunart. It is described as being of great value to the community and as a strategic long-distance trail.

NO F48 Picturesque views to Loch Sunart
NO F48 Picturesque views across Ardnamurchan Estate to Loch Sunart.

The case follows several complaints about locked gates at the estate in recent years. In 2019, two ramblers were reported for aggravated trespass while walking on the path, which is near their Glenborrodale home.

A sheriff court last week granted Ramblers Scotland permission to join The Highland Council in opposing a bid by Woodland Renewables to use section 28 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to remove access rights from the affected part of the Ardnamurchan Estate.

Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said the charity always viewed legal action as a last resort.

‘We haven’t entered an access case of this type in well over a decade, particularly as legal action can be so costly,’ he said.

‘However, this is a landmark legal case featuring an historic and important path. If we don’t fight to save the route, it’ll be a significant blow to our hard-won access rights and walkers will be banned from parts of this beautiful trail forever.

‘I hope lovers of the outdoors will consider donating to support our work and deliver a resounding message that people in Scotland believe our access rights are worth fighting for.’

The Highland Council told the Lochaber Times: ‘The council is opposing the application made under section 28 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The council intends to raise a separate action to have a route through the site that is subject to the section 28 application declared a public right of way.’

This route has been used by generations of walkers before the area was more recently developed as a wood yard, allegedly on the understanding access rights would be maintained.

All parties are due back in court online for the next hearing at the beginning of February.

After being interviewed and a report sent to the procurator fiscal, no further action was taken against the two walkers who were reported for alleged aggravated trespass but Ramblers Scotland branded the case ‘unprecedented and worrying’.

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Locked gates on Ardnamurchan Estate. NO F42 More locked gates 01

Extra pic: NO F48 Picturesque views across Ardnamurchan Estate to Loch Sunart.