Proposed Amended Core Paths Plan for Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh gets support of local Committee      


The Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Committee has reviewed the results of a consultation on the Amended Core Paths Plan for the area and have given their backing to the Plan.

The development of a Core Paths Plan is one of The Highland Council’s duties under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 [the Act]. The existing plan was adopted by Full Council in September 2011. Following an informal review for the West Highlands and Islands area in 2016, The Highland Council began a formal consultation on an Amended Core Paths Plan for the area in 2019.

The consultation was carried out between July and October last year and 86 comments were received on 27 routes. Of those responses, 66 were supportive,10 neutral and 10 were objections. The 10 objections related to 9 proposed routes. The Local Access Forum did not agree with 7 of these objections so during the Committee the members went through the list of proposed core path routes one by one.

They are as follows:

Little Garve to Aultguish- an old right of way which Forestry Land Scotland have objected to but the route was supported by Scotways and a neighbouring estate.

Coulin Pass - Network Rail objected to this proposal as it crosses the railway line at Achnashellach Station. The route is part of the Cape Wrath Trail.

Craig to Scardroy - Network Rail objected to this proposal as it crosses the railway line at Craig near Achnashellach. The route is a long-established public right of way linking the east to west coasts and provides the best access to 6 Munros and 2 Corbetts

 Strathconon - This route was objected to by the forestry agent of the owner but was supported by the local community council.

Strathpeffer to Knockbain - This route, being developed by the community as the all abilities Peffery Way between Strathpeffer and Dingwall, was objected to by one of the four landowners along the route but received 46 comments of support for the route

Bottacks to Loch Garve - This route, signposted in the 1990’s and part of a long circular route around Strathpeffer, was objected to by Forestry Land Scotland due to transportation of timber.

Inverlael Circuit – Forestry Land Scotland objected although it was established in 2010 with the Forestry Commission Scotland support as a result of community benefit from a hydro scheme being established.

The members unanimously agreed that in all 7 cases they did not share the views of the objectors and should press ahead and back the routes becoming part of the network of Core Paths.  This means the proposals will now go forward to the Scottish Government as outstanding objections. These, and any objections to the proposed changes in the Draft Modified Amended Core Paths Plan), will be submitted to the Scottish Government and will likely result in a Public Local Inquiry

The Committee also supported two modifications for another couple of proposed routes that do have the support of the Local Access Forum. 

The first is the path from Cemetery to Flowerdale House in Gairloch. The landowner has proposed an alternative, slightly west route that he would install, and this has been accepted.

The second is the removal of the Dun Canna extension route. In this case the land agents for the landowner and Scottish Land and Estates both objected to this proposed extension of an existing core path due to a proposed deer farm operation that would necessitate access restrictions at certain times of year. Given these restrictions the Local Access Forum agree it would not be compatible with a core path designation although access rights would continue to apply. The Council will therefore remove the proposal from the Amended Core Paths Plan.

Both of these changes will require a further period of consultation and will then be either accepted or, if objected to, will be submitted to the Scottish Government with those objections outstanding.

Chair of the Committee, Cllr Ian Cockburn said: “Many of these paths are getting used by walkers and cyclists already, myself included, and it makes no sense to not designate them as core paths.  I am disappointed that Network Rail and Forestry Land Scotland have put in their objections at a time when everyone else is promoting the wellbeing benefits of getting out and about and taking exercise. Many of the communities next to these routes, as well as the Local Access Forum, have been working hard to open up more paths and give people more options on where to enjoy some terrific walks and cycles. This work should be applauded, and I am delighted our Committee agrees 100% that the Council should press on  and push for these routes, along with those not objected to, to be included in the Plan.”

15 Oct 2020