Rob Mackay

Important — Knoydart Bridge Removed

The Knoydart Foundation Ranger Service has advised that the footbridge over the River Carnach at NM866965 has been removed due to safety concerns. This means there is no bridge over the River Carnach and it needs to be noted this is a dangerous river crossing.

Restoration Work on the Beauly to Denny Line

The Planning Committee of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) considered a report on the restoration progress being made in December 2017. The main points of the report include:

Transformation of Suilven Path

The Suilven Path Project is a partnership between the Assynt Foundation and the John Muir Trust. There is a budget of £200,000 and work started in 2016. The first phase of the project was completed in the summer of 2017 and involved two path contractors, ten workers and an airlift of 100 tonnes of rock.

With an improved path line this will reduce damage to the surrounding blanket bog and in turn this will hopefully reverse the loss of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Access to environmental justice

Scottish Environment LINK is looking at the case for setting up an environmental rights centre in Scotland (ERCS). It has funded a 6-month research project and an online survey was conducted in December. The goals of the ERCS include:

Concerns about Notices relating to Access

Nick Kempe of parkwatchscotland has raised concerns about the appearance of notices (e.g. "Welcome to the Moor") that conflict with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC). It is suggested the role of the two National Park authorities is of public concern as one of their statutory duties is to promote public enjoyment of the countryside and that they also operate as Access Authorities. The logo of the Cairngorms National Park Authority appears on one of these notices so the question is being asked as to what they are doing in these situations. Nick Kempe suggests what needs to happen is that both of our National Park Authorities needs to make an explicit commitment to address these issues.

> more information

Removal of Winterhighland Webcam

It was reported in November 2017 that staff of Cairngorm Mountain/Natural Retreats (NR) removed without authority the webcam operated by Winterhighlands. This webcam had been located in the Scottish Ski Club (SSC) hut. Following this incident there were competing claims as to whether Cairngorm Mountain/NR had gained the agreement of the other parties; they claimed they had consulted with the Scottish Ski Club and Winterhighlands. In a statement they indicated their intention to install a new webcam that would link in with their existing webcam set-up. The Scottish Ski Club posted the following statement on their Facebook page:

Members will be aware from recent web communication that the Winter Highland webcams have now been removed from the SSC Cairngorm hut. We wish to make it clear that, whilst some communication occurred between the committee and NR staff before the cameras were removed, our wish was that the cameras would be retained and any issues which may have arisen openly addressed and resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. SSC regret that this has not been possible but welcome NR¡¦s decision to erect their own cameras to ensure SSC members and other mountain users have the benefit of the same viewpoints.

However, at the time of writing, the SSC has confirmed that NR has not installed a new camera nor are there equivalent webcams elsewhere.

Peatlands action and research

The CNPA currently has a Peatland Action project covering seven project areas. The project work should see 25 km of drains blocked, 114 km of peat hags and erosion gullies re-profiled and re-turfed, 13 hectacre of bare peat treated with 4,382 bags of Spagnum-rich mulch, 930 stone dams and 3,070 turf, straw or coir bunds installed across the 7 sites. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions from this work is 6,665 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year or the same as the annual emissions of 1,389 houses.

For more information, please contact

Recent research by St. Andrews University suggests that sea lochs have an important role to play in storing carbon. Based on work carried out at Loch Etive, researchers calculated that one square metre of sediment contains more carbon than peatlands. About 640 million tonnes of carbon is now estimated to exist in the top 111 Scottish sea lochs. Scottish peatlands have been estimated to hold 1,600 million tonnes. It is pointed out that very little protection exists from activities like dredging, and the researchers have suggested this needs to change. The Scottish Government published in Jan 2017 a draft Climate Change Plan but there was no mention of policies to protect seabed sediments.

Garbh Choire Refuge

At the January 2018 NEMT Council meeting, it was noted that NTS had decided to allow MBA to refurbish this refuge in perhaps the pre-eminent Cairngorms "wild" place. As a group, NEMT were divided about this decision, some for it on possible safety grounds and some against it both on conservation grounds and also on safety grounds (one of the findings from the Feith Buidhe tragedy was to remove shelters that might tempt people to try and find them in bad weather). However, irrespective of the actual decision, the trustees were unhappy that NTS had not repeated another round of consultation as they had done previously in 2012. In late February, Dave Windle called David Frew at Mar Lodge Estate to discuss improved consultation in the future. We agreed that, in this particular case, NTS were in a no-win situation and discussed things going forward. It was pointed out that

He repeated his offer to give a talk to NEMT about current Mar Lodge issues and engage in discussion with the audience - an offer that we intend to take him up on.

Mend Our Mountains Campaign

"Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million" is an ambitious appeal to raise funds to repair pathways and restore mountain paths. The campaign in Scotland is being led by Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) and aims to raise £100,000. These funds will be used to repair and improve paths on Ben Vane and Beinn a Ghlo — one in each national park. Mountaineering Scotland is encouraging people to either donate or to undertake a fundraising activity. More information can be found at

Kingshouse Extension

Highland Council has approved a major extension to the Kingshouse. Numerous objections were lodged, including one from NEMT. Our objection, as were those of a number of other voluntary bodies, did not oppose restoration of this famous hotel which is in need of love and attention; it was based on our view that the specific plans submitted were inappropriate for the location, being too visually intrusive given its location beneath The Buachaille at the mouth of Glencoe.


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