Agendas, reports and minutes

Caithness Local Access Forum

Date: Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Action Note: claf - Action Note 11 June 2013

Note of meeting of Caithness Local Access Forum (CLAF)
held in the Conference Room, Naver House, Thurso
on Tuesday 11th June 2013 at 7.30 p.m.



David Glass (DG) – Community Group
Ben McGregor (BM) – Access Taker/User
Elena Koponen-Baikie (EK-B) – Community Group
Chris Hobson (CH) – Land Manager
Cllr Willie Mackay (WM) – Landward Ward Member of Highland Council

In attendance

Matt Dent (MD) – Caithness and Sutherland Access Officer, Highland Council (HC)
Alex Macmanus (AM) – Ward Manager’s Team, Highland Council (Clerk)

Site Inspection

Prior to the meeting the Forum members took an hour’s walkabout over the Pennyland woodland/moor escorted by MD.  Thereafter the Forum members returned to Naver House to attend their arranged meeting.

1. Apologies

William Bruce (WB)
Marina Swanson (MS)

3. Appointment of new Chair of CLAF

WB had indicated at meeting on 7th March that he intended standing down as Chair after five years in the post (16/06/2008)
WB had indicated in writing to the clerk that he was proposing CH as Chair and that EK-B would second his proposal. EK-B confirmed this was the case.

The clerk put the nomination to the Forum who all agreed the proposal and with his agreement CH accepted the position of Chair of CLAF. He suggested that a Vice-Chair should be nominated and he would speak to WB to see if he would accept that post.

CH would also contact Mrs Macleod from Thrumster with a view to having her complete an application form to request being a member of CLAF (Land Owner, erratum - should read Community Group 10/9/2013)

2. Notes and actions from meeting of 7th March 2013

Press release - was issued. MD reminded group that press releases should be directed via the Councils press office.

Core Path Signs – MD has been signing paths at Lybster, Latheron, Reay and Halkirk. Signs are in sets made up of 30/40 signs. Look to promote the paths in Dunnet forest that are all abilities.
DG would like to see Dirlot Castle signed. MD would speak to Halkirk Community Council about fingerposts for river walk. As MD does not know who all the land owners are as regards the core path signs any relevant information that the CLAF members have would be greatly received.

Latheronwheel Shore Park – no access issues have been raised with MD.

Hill Walking Access – Old signs are getting ignored however folk are uncomfortable doing this. No complaints received from public. MD and MS would make contact with the factor at Braemore.

Wind Farm Access – Blingery by Upper Achairn to Camster more or less complete with a ‘welcome’ panel now in place. Burn of Whilk have site for access. Stroupster still have trees to come down.

Core Paths Review – MD done but just needs a tidy up.

Sibster, Georgemas – well worth a visit.

Forss Woodland Path – Council is now taking further steps with this issue.

Gerston Sign – this Private sign is not causing any problems.

Yarrows Archaeological Trail – On going issue.

4. Pennyland Wood

Thanks to MD for organising site visit. Huge area within close proximity to Thurso. Many existing paths leading onto site from housing estates. MD would check with local plan and speak to landowner about his future plans for the area. Has the route of the aspirational by-pass been taken account of?

Some of the paths are leading onto the golf course which is causing some difficulty with the members of the club regarding safety issues and vandalism of walls and dykes.

5. Local Access Officers Report

No significant new enquiries
Last three months been spend on mainly planning issues
Have commented on Spittal Wind farm scoping scheme – on line
Have commented on Lyth Wind farm – on line
Have commented on small industrial wind mills
No major forestry enquiries
Dealt with Core Path signage – no negative comments received from public

Lot of time spent in Caithness last year. First quarter of this year has been spent in Sutherland (Scourie, Lairg, and Bettyhill)

CH advised the Forum that he was being made aware that there were more people walking around the Dunnet Head area this year.

6. Local Disability Access Panel report.

WM reported that the group were now doing well and getting good publicity. There had an attendance of twelve people at their last meeting.  Group are looking at all abilities paths.

DG reminded meeting that there was a circular route in Dunnet forest which was all abilities. Also the paths at the new Newton Hill woodland walk are accessible.

MD would speak to Ann Hackett about making better access to Dunnet Head view point. MD has signs for this area.

7. AOB

BM – Talked about the path that runs from Dunnet Head down the east side of the headland towards Brough. Quite a difficult path akin more to a scramble. DG would take MD and show this ‘hill walkers’ path to him.

DG expressed how great the Geisse walk was. He was reminded that this walk had been enjoyed by CLAF members a few years prior. There are no signs on the main roads to advise about the walk.

It was noted that the farm had not been sold by the M's but was now rented. DG felt that this walk was special as it was word of mouth that was advertising this. He did concede that there was a leaflet available on the walk.
ACTION to secure some of these leaflets


Tuesday 10th September 2013

This is subject to items being received for the forum along with any ideas for a site visit.