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Saturday 13 July 2019 saw 19 people meeting at the Allanaquoich Car Park on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms for a walk up Glen Quoich. Family and friends of former ScotWays Honorary President, Donald Bennet, had gathered with representatives of ScotWays and the NTS to formally open the replacement upper bridge on the Quoich in Donald’s memory.
The group walked up to the new bridge, where Ben Dolphin, a seasonal ranger for NTS and recently elected President of Ramblers Scotland, gave an outline of the history and conservation management of the Mar Lodge Estate. Jo Mould of NTS, Bob Aitken of ScotWays, and Donald’s son Alan described the importance of this bridge and how fitting it is as a tribute to Donald’s passionate and life-long contribution to access and conservation of Scotland’s countryside. After a toast to Donald’s memory, his widow Anne cut the ribbon to open the bridge.
Donald’s love of the outside wasn’t the only connection to this part of Scotland within the assembled group. The friends of the Bennet family included a one-time ghillie who had worked out of Mar Lodge in the 1950s and a lady whose brother-in-law had been Factor for the Swiss Panchaud brothers, the owners of the Mar Lodge Estate during the 1960s.
In December 2015 severe flooding hit this part of Aberdeenshire, and amidst great swathes of damage across the catchment of the Dee carried off the three bridges over the River Quoich. The National Trust for Scotland and the Cairngorm Club replaced the middle bridge at the Punchbowl restoring access to Allanaquoich. The new Donald Bennet bridge crosses the Quoich in its middle reaches and restores a circular walk which gives impressive views of the river’s scenic rapids, falls and characteristic punchbowls amidst fine pinewoods.
Donald Bennet was a Director of ScotWays from 1989, Chair between 1992 and 2000, and Honorary President between 2000 and 2004. He played a major part in developing ScotWays to its current level of activity and authority in the field of access influence. A passionate mountaineer, Donald was heavily involved in writing and editing Scottish Mountaineering Trust guides, including guides to the Munros and Corbetts. But he was also active in Mountaineering Scotland and as a member of the Countryside Commission for Scotland, helping to promote constructive new approaches to access. All this work earned him the well-deserved award of an OBE. When Donald passed away in 2013, ScotWays led fundraising efforts by the mountaineering and walking community which raised nearly £30,000 in his memory.
This is the second bridge that the Donald Bennet Memorial Fund has provided on the Mar Lodge Estate. The first bridge, where ScotWays provided the structural girders, replaced one destroyed in the devastating flash-floods of August 2014, close to Derry Lodge, and was installed in 2015.
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The ScotWays office will be shut on Monday 3rd June 2019 for staff training.
We have received a further update from the Camusrory estate on the progress with the Carnoch Bridge. Construction of the bridge is now in the final stages of completion and they are hoping it should be back in Mallaig for transporting to Camusrory towards the end of May. In the meantime, they are using the recent good weather to remake the existing stone piers and also laying the foundations for the extension of the bridge.
Transporting the bridge and appropriate machinery to the bridge site is of course weather dependent but, all things being equal, the estate hopes to have the bridge in place around mid-July* 2019. They are sorry for the delay but feel that the end is now in sight and it will be a really fine bridge.
*Update: unfortunately there has been a further delay. The bridge is now expected to open at the end of August 2019.
The ScotWays office will be closed on Friday 19th April 2019 and re-open on Tuesday 23rd April 2019.
General rights of way and access enquiries: We are currently receiving a large number of enquiries, and we are working hard to answer as many as possible before the Easter break. Unfortunately, we will not manage to respond to everyone, in which case we apologise for the delay in our response. If you are concerned not to have heard from us, please do feel free to drop us a reminder via post or email and we will be in touch once the office has re-opened.
Rights of way searches for solicitors, land managers and developers: We are currently only just meeting our target of responding to all rights of way search requests within 10 working days of receiving them in our office, unless another deadline has been agreed. As our office will be closed over Easter, search requests received after Thursday 4th April may not be completed until after the holiday. If your search request is urgent, please contact us to discuss when we will be able to complete it.
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