Latest news stories from ScotWays.

Carnach Bridge Update

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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.

Scotways at Easter 2019

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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.


Walkers Bid to Save ‘Wild and Special’ Highland Dunes

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Two of Scotland’s biggest walking charities are set to join forces today to oppose “damaging and inappropriate” plans to transform wild Highland dunes into an 18-hole golf course. 

Ramblers Scotland and ScotWays plan to tell a public inquiry in Dornoch that the proposals threaten to permanently transform Coul Links near Embo in Sutherland – with negative impacts for the landscape, informal outdoor recreation and public access rights at the protected site.

Helen Todd, Ramblers Scotland’s campaigns and policy manager, said: “Coul Links is hugely valued by people seeking to enjoy solitude and nature amongst its wild and special dunes. These ill-conceived plans could restrict public access and harm visitors’ and residents’ enjoyment of the area.

“We must stand up for memorable, quiet places like Coul Links – before they’re lost forever. They form an important element of what makes Scotland so special, especially when contrasted to Highland honeypots like Skye or Glencoe.”

John Mackay is ScotWays’ honorary advisor and is scheduled to give evidence at the inquiry on Friday 22 March. He said: “Coul Links is a special place, having one of the finest beaches on the Moray Firth. It sits alongside the Loch Fleet basin, backed by the local hills to the north, all of which combine to create a very fine natural landscape.

“Coul and its wider setting, and the nature conservation interests of this area, are important assets for the many holiday visitors to Embo. They should be protected against development.”

Walkers have the legal right to cross Scotland’s 550+ golf courses, as long as they avoid interfering with play and keep off greens.

However, the design of the Coul Links course will make it difficult for people to avoid such interference, especially when the course is busy. Seven holes cut across an important core path, which also forms part of the newly-developed John o’ Groats Trail.

The charities’ evidence includes an article from a local resident on what Coul Links means to her. She writes: “Coul is one of the few truly special places in Scotland, where unexpected encounters with the wild are not only possible, they are likely.”

The first phase of the inquiry began on Tuesday 26 February, focusing on ecological issues. A coalition of seven conservation charities including RSPB Scotland, National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Wildlife Trust argued that the plans seriously threaten biodiversity and wildlife. 

Inquiry reporters will make a recommendation to the Scottish Government, who will ultimately decide the fate of Coul Links. That final result may not be announced for many months after the inquiry ends. 

Highland councillors voted in June 2018 to grant planning permission for the course, despite their own planning officials, Scottish Natural Heritage, concerned residents and a range of environmental groups advising them to refuse the application. After a public outcry, two months later this decision was ‘called in’ by the Scottish Government for further scrutiny at a public inquiry.

2019 Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum Walks Programme announced

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The Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum (SPRF) has announced it’s Walks programme for 2019.  They are open to anyone who enjoys walking and would like to learn more about the SPRF Priority Pilgrim Walking Routes.  There is no cost for the walks which are generally between 5 and 8 miles in distance.

This years walks include the Three Saints Way, Whithorn Way, St. Cuthbert’s Way, Kentigern Way, Forth to Farne and the Fife Pilgrim Way.  You can find more details over on the SPRF website.

Coul Links Public Inquiry Starts

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The public inquiry into the proposed 18 hole golf course at Coul Links, Embo, near Dornoch, Sutherland has started.  The inquiry is scheduled to last for four weeks and will see a range of experts, both for and against, present their cases for the Reporter to hear.

ScotWays and Ramblers Scotland will highlight the major negative impacts the proposed golf course would have on both residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment of the outdoors.  The first phase of the Inquiry will deal with the conservation aspects and the outdoor access arguments is scheduled to be heard during the fourth week.

Once the inquiry has finished, the Reporter will consider all the evidence presented and make a recommendation to the Scottish Government who will, ultimately, make the final desicion.  This process make take a number of months.

If you want to know more of can find all the inquiry papers on the DPEA website.

ScotWays - Small Grant Scheme 31 May 2019 Deadline

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The ScotWays small grants scheme aims to help organisations fund a project up to 50% of the total budget for the project.

The scheme will award grants of between £500 and £1,500. It is hoped that this might enable organisations to achieve the completion of a community-based/access-related project which might not otherwise be able to proceed.

Applicant organisations should be members of ScotWays.

The next submission date for applications is 31st May 2019, and a decision on any applications received by that date will be made by the end of July.

For further details please visit our downloads page where you’ll find an explanatory letter and the application form.