There are four munros on the North Chesthill estate. Photo: Gordon Hatton CC-BY-SA-2.0

There are four munros on the North Chesthill estate. Photo: Gordon Hatton CC-BY-SA-2.0

Mountaineers have accused a Scottish council of failing in its duty to uphold the right to roam on a Glen Lyon estate.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said Perth and Kinross Council is allowing landowner Major Alastair Riddell to impose a blanket ban on walking in the area.

A notice posted on a website that informs walkers of deerstalking closures said shooting would occur on the North Chesthill estate for at least 25 days of a month-long period ending tomorrow, including weekends.

The MCofS, which represents hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers north of the border, said for many years the owner of the estate has tried to prevent people from walking in the area, which includes four munros.

Over the years, the owner’s tactics have included locked gates, misleading signs and information, and intimidation, it said.

Research by the MCofS in April this year showed the vast majority of people responding to a questionnaire reported problems with access.

It added that staff from Perth and Kinross Council, Perth and Kinross Local Access Forum, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and Ramblers Scotland have all been involved in trying to come to an amicable solution with the owner, with the aim of him allowing access throughout the year.

The MCofS has now written to the authority demanding an inquiry into its actions and failure to protect the ‘right to roam’ under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

David Gibson: 'council is failing to uhold access rights'

David Gibson: 'council is failing to uhold access rights'

MCofS chief officer David Gibson said: “This blanket closure is completely unacceptable and outwith the spirit of the access legislation.

“It puts Perth and Kinross as a destination, and the council’s access team, in a very bad light amongst the walking and climbing community.

“Why? Because a landowner denying access rights, within the council’s area of responsibility, has been allowed continually to flaunt legislation with the full knowledge of your staff.”

Mr Gibson pointed out Perth and Kinross Council had a duty, as local access authority, to uphold those rights.

“Your staff are fully aware of the history and current situation at North Chesthill Estate. We consider that the council is failing in its legal responsibility and duty to uphold access rights, whilst being aware that the owner is initiating blanket closures on the area.

“Accordingly, we ask that you conduct an urgent internal investigation and advise us by the end of October what measures the council will take to rectify the situation, to ensure that those wishing to enjoy responsible access are enabled to do so.”

A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “The council is fulfilling its legal obligations and is committed to utilising the resources available for dealing with obstruction cases as effectively as possible.”

In a statement to walkers on its website, the North Chesthill Estate said: “If we indicate we are out [deerstalking] please walk on alternative areas. This is in accordance with the wishes expressed and asked for in the access code.

“These small requests will assist in preventing this upland wilderness becoming a wildlife desert, which is currently where it is heading if human access impacts are not more actively managed, carried out responsibly, or curtailed.

“Thank you for your co-operation in working towards sustainability and helping us achieve a better balance between man and nature.”

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