The Angry Corrie 15: Oct-Nov 1993
And they call it democracy...
Thanks to all who have taken part - either physically or in terms of moral support - in the recent Minigaig saga. At the time of writing, at least ten folk are known to have made the 28-mile crossing from Atholl to Speyside or vice-versa, and doubtless more have yet to let us know. No reported problems re harassment, although during your editor's own crossing, a 'Private - Keep out' sign was noted on a gate some distance S of Bruar Lodge. Whereas signs at the Lodge itself helpfully redirected walkers around the house, this one offered no such alternative and led to confusion. Lying smack on the right-of-way, an alternative route should be on offer, and we intend informing the council of this infringement. Otherwise, all seemed well - one pair of walkers reported a party of stalkers waving at them! Most crossings seem to have taken between ten and twelve hours, and the Kingussie chip shops must have benefited from a sudden burst of trade. A final update will be given in TAC16, and it's hoped to re-use the small group method of mass action in other places at other times.
The most immediate spin-off from this whole business has been the coming together of a planning/action group. Initially focussed entirely around the Minigaig, thoughts have already turned to other issues. Over the next few months the group hopes to put into action a project called 'Hillwatch' - with walkers and climbers asked to regularly complete Hillwatch cards, detailing such things as new fences and tracks, litter left by walkers, unnecessary cairning, inaccurate estate signs, etc etc.
In other words, a hill monitoring project, with hillgoers completing a card - similar to the MBA's bothy report card - every time they go out. Clearly this requires a fair amount of commitment by all and sundry, but the payoff will be a constantly updated overview of what's good and bad in the Scottish hills, with potential 'hotspots' quickly highlighted. The Hillwatch Group - as it's now called - sees at least four distinct benefits from this: (a) creating and maintaining a network of interested, motivated people; (b) empowering and educating, such that folk feel they can actually do something about hill problems; (c) information gathering - to be collated into a database, then fed back both through TAC itself and, at some stage, via a countrywide handbook; (d) action: once problem spots are noted, the network could get off its collective backside and do something. We intend running a pilot project through the next few months, mainly to work out the most effective way to design the cards. Anyone interested in taking part - and willing to diligently detail the good and bad aspects of their winter walking - should contact Hillwatch at the usual TAC address. Costs will, as ever, be kept minimal: printing and postage only.
Elsewhere, brief mention must be made of three concerns: