Agendas, reports and minutes

Caithness Local Access Forum

Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Action Note: claf - Action Note 10 September 2013

Note of meeting of Caithness Local Access Forum (CLAF)
held in the Ross Institute, Halkirk
on Tuesday 10th September 2013 at 7.30 p.m.



Chris Hobson (CH), Chair – Land Manager
David Glass (DG) – Community Group
Ben McGregor (BM) – Access Taker/User
William Bruce (WB) – Access Taker/User
Elena Koponen-Baikie (EK-B) – Community Group
Willie Mackay (WM) – Landward Ward Member, Highland Council
Roger Saxon (RS) – Thurso Ward Member, Highland Council

In attendance

Matt Dent (MD) – Access Officer, Highland Council
Marina Swanson (MS) – East Caithness Countryside Ranger, Highland Council
Islay Macleod (IM) – Prospective Member of CLAF
Alex Macmanus (AM) – Ward Manager’s Team, Highland Council (clerk)

Site visit.

At 6.00 pm and prior to their meeting CLAF members CH, DG, BM, WB and EK-B accompanied by MD, IM and AM spent a pleasant hour walking in favourable weather conditions around the large Forestry Commission site at Sibster, Georgemas.

1. Apologies

Kirsty Rosie (KR) – East Caithness Countryside Ranger, Highland Council.
George Duff (GD) – Countryside Ranger & Long Distance Route Manager. (Line Manager to MD)

2. Notes and actions from meeting of 11th June 2013

Mrs Macleod, Thrumster looking to join Forum listed as a Land Owner should read Community Group (web page notes amended)

Core path Signs – MD has written to Factor at Berriedale. WM reports that signage in this area is a lot friendlier.  ‘Beware of Bull’ signs are not recommended by the HSE. MS reports no issues on signage between Braemore and Berriedale.

Pennyland Wood – MD to make contact with land owner. Woolf burn core path part of potential bye pass which is shown in Thurso local plan. Call for sites being circulated by Planning to local groups.

3. Sibster Forest

DG suggested that an obvious extension of this site would be the historic route to Halkirk. CH would write to the Halkirk Community Council and the Halkirk Village Council to get their thoughts on this idea. ACTION – CH

Can an article be written for the local paper about the CLAF visit? Permission would need sought from the Forestry Commission. Good variety of young trees planted on the site.

4. Local Access Officers Report

Core Path Plan – call for sites was send out by Planning at the end of July this year and will run until end of September. Local Plan is also calling for sites. Local drop in sessions will be held and MD is hoping to attend as many as he can. Call for sites information will be sent to CLAF members. There are no limits to the number of core paths.  ACTION – MD

Core Path Signs – No feedback received from all the letters sent out Halkirk link as described in 3 above, part of a desk top review. WM believes that the landowner would be on side as far as a joining path was concerned.

Signs distributed around the Reay area, Halkirk, Achscrabster with reminder of Caithness still to do. Most of the signs should be up by end of 2013. Dunbeath area was missed but they will be picked up in new financial year. MD can provide poles and signs and also gates.

CH advises that signage is needed at Dunnet. If local Community Council can identify the need and let MD know. ACTION – CH

Enquiries – Receiving on average two a month. Yarrows Trust are hoping to take on the new car park that is being built. Members agree that the current signage on the main road(s) about Yarrows is not ideal. Andy Puls is the Council contact at HQ.

Road at Old Wick – discussions on going regarding link path from the development at Old Wick to the east of the old cemetery at the cemetery road.

Forse – Case is still with Council Solicitors.

Deer Farm, Latheronwheel – No issues raised. Main access to shore park is still ok.

Brough to Dunnet Head – Rubble dumped on path. ACTION – MD/DG/CH

Dirlot Gorge – On list to visit Dirlot which is felt needs to be better signposted. Suggest DG adds this to Plan review.

Work Load - Working on list of aspirational routes, aspirational signs and Core Path reviews. MD has agreed that all CLAF members should be given a copy of the Core Path plan to allow them time to review and to make any suggestions at the next CLAF meeting. This meeting is pencilled in for 10th December 2013 and the Core Path review may be the only listed item on the agenda.  Forum would put forward a consolidated list to the review. ACTION – MD

New Web Site -

If a land owner changes the surface of a core path and this is not satisfactory then they will have 14 days to reinstate surface to former covering. If this does not happen Council will go in, carry out the work and bill the land owner.

Caithness Core Path 17 (Dalnawillan) – 3km of surface difficult for bikes due to an understanding that stones laid are to accommodate Lorries working in the area.

Useful web site -

Members can contact MD for any issues.

5. Local Disability Access panel Report

WM reports that this Group are presently looking at transport providers in the County. They have recently carried out a survey on the Scrabster/Stromness ferry service.

6. AOB

Reports of boulders blocking laybys at Reay. MD would check on this.

Old Newtonhill Woodland – Site now to be closed off due to persistent damage to fence. Council duty of care will also mean car park is shut off. Letters sent out to neighbours and local Community Council. No further tests will be carried out on the land.

National Access Forum (NAF) meeting 5th November, Glasgow – Check agenda and if in area and items have a Caithness perspective it’s worth attending.


Tuesday 26th November 2013 at PPP, Huddart Street, Wick 7.00 pm until 9.00 pm