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Access rights must not be abused, says landowner

02 June 2010

ONE of Strathspey’s most prominent landowners has highlighted the roles Scottish estates play in promoting tourism – but warned that access comes at a price.

Lord Seafield was commenting in the latest annual rundown of what has been happening at Strathspey Estate.

He also flags up the “You’re Welcome” initiative where the public can find out about hundreds of events taking place on estates and farms across Scotland.

Lord Seafield states: “On our estates we have Open Farm Sunday, guided walks and a number of other activities but look further afield and the list is really all-embracing.

“Where else will you find such a range of activities? Land Rover tours, Shakespearean plays, t’ai chi in the open countryside, jazz evenings, jousting, an orchid festival, pony-trekking and much more.”

But equally he says the public must respect how they treat the land that they visit.

He cites Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where a consultation exercise is taking place on new bylaws that could ban camping on the east shores of the loch.

He notes that the actions of a few have spoiled the experience for others at the beauty spot. Lord Seafield states: “Closed gates, high fences… that was the image of many of Scotland’s large estates, but how much that has changed.

“Where to walk, ride, climb or cycle has of course been clarified by our access legislation, and it is good that Scotland’s countryside is now recognised as a resource for all to enjoy.

“But it has to be remembered that with those access rights come responsibilities.”

Referring to camping at Loch Lomond, he says: “This privilege may be revoked as more and more parties choose to push their rights to the limit; to disturb nature and wildlife; to tear down trees for fires and barbecues; to leave litter in abundance and to spoil that same experience for others, and the many visitors from outside Scotland, who are drawn to the beautiful magnet that Loch Lomond should be.

“The Cairngorms National Park Authority has resisted going down a similar route. Our problem is not so bad, although there may be hot-spots where crowds will gather, camp overnight, and generally behave outside the law and the code that access legislation was enacted to permit.”

He adds: “We want the public to come, whether for events or just to enjoy the countryside, but we need to learn the lesson from Loch Lomond – access is welcome but it should not be abused.”

Strathspey Estate owns around 53,850 acres (21,793 hectares) in and around Grantown, Boat of Garten and Aviemore.

The latest news review features a round-up of some of the estate’s activities over the past year. It includes a feature on capercaillie conservation on Strathspey Estate on BBC’s The One Show watched by around four million viewers.

(Strathspey and Badenoch Herald)

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