Row erupts as hotel fence blocks path
ONE OF the Highlands’ most prestigious hotels is at the centre of a row over public access to a footpath popular with hikers and Glencoe residents.
The target of walkers’ ire is a new fence being built across a 121-year- old public footpath at the rear of the Glencoe House hotel.
They say it affects access to the trails at Glencoe Lochan and that the path is a popular route and a suitable track for mobility access for disabled people from Invercoe and for visitors.
There is still a gap in the fence but it is regularly blocked with men-at-work warning signs and traffic cones.
Glencoe House, built in 1896 by Lord Strathcona, is one of the most famous properties in the Highlands. Used as a hospital during the Second World War, Glencoe House was eventually closed as a medical facility in 2009 and two years later was bought and restored by Robert Niemeyer and Judy Pate and turned into the luxury hotel.
The path runs between the rear of the hotel and what was previously former stables and an ambulance station, which the hotel's owners converted into additional luxury accommodation.
Local mountain and walking guide Simon Nadin told the
Lochaber Times people were furious over the erection of the fence.
‘I have no doubt this issue is not going to go away. Local people are being made aware of the action and are clearly angry at the high-handed manner with which it has been implemented,’ he said.
‘There’s been no consultation with the local community about any of this and that has put quite a lot of people’s backs up.
‘This is not acceptable in this day and age.
‘There can be no return to a Victorian attitude about public land access.’
Asked to comment, a Highland Council spokesperson said it was aware of the situation which is under investigation.
Helen Todd, Ramblers Scotland’s campaigns and policy manager, said the national organisation shared the disappointment and frustration of locals and visiting outdoor enthusiasts over the blocking of the path.
‘Highland Council has designated this route as a ‘core path’, meaning it is one of the most important in the area for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and others who want to enjoy the woodland around the Glencoe Lochan,’ she told the Lochaber
Times. Calling for the path to be re- opened, she added: ‘We have contacted the council’s access team to offer our support to their efforts to resolve the issue as soon as possible.’
Ramblers Scotland says the suggested alternative route is far less appealing and not suitable for all users.
The original path was a wide track that could be used by everyone to explore the woods, including those with buggies or the less able.
And the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society (ScotWays) says the path may also meet the criteria to be a right of way and called on people to share information regarding its use.
Despite several attempts, no response from Mr Niemeyer was forthcoming before we went to press.
The new fence at the rear of Glencoe House which has caused anger among local people.