The Angry Corrie 8: Jul-Aug 1992

Close encounters of the laird kind No. 2

It's time your ever-expanding, down-market readership stopped whining about landowners and looked to the appalling depredations inflicted on the countryside by our own kind. I'll just spotlight the most glaring examples I came across recently:

Staoineag: This place should be closed for two years at least to break the habit of drunken bums who stagger up, laden with booze, from Corrour Station for weekend piss-ups. Apart from allnight sing-songs, they cut down birch trees and attempt to burn them green. Recently, I found a bunch of bleary-eyed assholes hacking away at a newly-felled tree INSIDE the bothy. I don't know who supplies saws to these places (the MBA?), but whoever they are need their heads looked at.

Barrisdale: I arrived there the other week to find the honesty box plundered, the stove taken out because intrepid mountaineers had burned fenceposts, signs and part of the deer larder, and newly scorched patches on the camping area. All this only a quarter mile from where the owners have a project underway to regenerate a stand of Scots pine. Incidentally, the Nature Conservancy Council refused to help the project, which would have collapsed if the Army had not volunteered to fly in fencing and other gear by chopper.

Sourlies: Three teachers from some fancy school were ensconced there for a long stay. They had stuffed the notoriously temperamental fireplace with greasy garbage (they were living high on the hog). Loftily ignoring warnings from people who knew better, they put a match to the mess, effectively and instantly rendering the place uninhabitable as oily smoke billowed throughout. This happened first thing in the morning when tent folk were trying to cook breakfast away from the midges. The brainless trio were apparently 'training' a whole series of pupils who were outside on a semi-permanent campsite.

Inveroran: The campsite at the bridge just down the road from the smashing wee inn has more burnt patches than grass, at least on the right side of the bridge. 'That's these West Highland Way buggers' I hear you say. Maybe they have some part in it - but according to at least one local, weekenders cause most havoc. In fact, the vandalising of a JCB was alleged to have been the result of high spirits on the part of some off-duty polis on the skite.

Now, about landowners: There's been a lot of stuff in TAC recently about Private - Keep Out signs. Where are they? I have asked more than once. No-one has replied. In over 50 years on the hill I've never seen such a sign - nor have I ever been confronted by anyone disrupting my passage, so to speak. With my ugly, scarred mug, wild eyes and my usually dishevelled state, I'm maybe not everyone's idea of a soft target, but surely in my regular wandering throughout the length and breadth of the Highlands, I should have seen a sign at least. I've had discussions with stalkers about how to keep out of each other's way, but only once was there even a suspicion of possible conflict. He was a grumpy old keeper of the type who never wore stockings under his boots (you won't see his kind again), and I was a grumpy, middleaged, temporarily lost padder. But, despite the mist and rain sweeping the high moor between Blair Atholl and Feshie, the encounter ended amicably enough.

The point I've been trying to make is this: it's no use bitching about Private signs without saying where they are. And it's no use bitching about landowners when walkers go around acting like eejits. In fact, if I owned Barrisdale, none of you buggers would be allowed past Kinloch Hourn. And I certainly would not go to the trouble of compiling a book for Sourlies giving both sides of the argument about deer and access like the guy at Camusrory has done. So there!

Jack Wills

TAC 8 Index