The Angry Corrie 33: Sep-Oct 97

TAC 33 Index

and they call it democracy ...

The threat to calm and quiet in the Cuillin seems to have been lifted, with the withdrawal of Man Friday Helicopters' application to fly Camcorder Specials in their aerial buzzsaw (see TAC32, p11 and TAC30, pp6-7). Thankfully they pulled out before realising the earning potential of lowering Topbaggers on to the newly promoted Knight's Peak on Sgurr nan Gillean, and so the Wingéd Isle has avoided, for the time being at least, becoming the Rotoréd Isle. But there's always another bump under the carpet just when you think the damn thing has flattened-out nicely, and this time it comes in the form of an advert spotted by Michael Gray of Newtonabbey, concerning chopper flights in the Mournes and the Antrim glens. Given TAC/TACit's growing interest in the Irish hills, more details on this would be welcomed. Likewise for background on the Slieve Donard railway proposals.

Your Ed may never have had a proper job nor a car nor a mortgage nor two-point-four children and a dog, but he's done well in life. Why? Because he's reached age thirty-six without ever having bought a Genesis album. Val Hamilton's article on pp4-5 betrays possible ownership of such a thing, and TAC's co-Ed Warbeck even attended one of their so-called "gigs" at Dundee Caird Hall c1975. But your Ed has remained pure and unsullied, and certainly will do so now, given the behaviour of the boys when it comes to that crucial aspect of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, real estate mismanagement. As Val hinted, and until July this year, Phil "Save the rainforest" Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks (not that one), owned and "ran" a chunk of Mull, the 7900-acre Pennyghael estate. Their chosen method of returning some of their vast profits to their record-buying public included letting the estate's "big house" fall into disrepair, and closing down its three farms (with the loss of fourteen jobs) to make way for low-tax forestry schemes. (They had already, in 1991, accepted #267k of government cash for woodland regeneration, only to plant a swathe of sitkas.) When asked why they had now sold the estate, Rutherford reportedly commented "Dunno really".

It would be nice to think that this sale, along with recent progress on Eigg (which has, weirdly, also emerged as a major player in trendy crypto-soap This Life), heralds a golden age of land-reclamation by indigenous Scots: for the people, by the people, that kind of thing. Sadly however, Genesis merely sold the estate to a Dutch clothing firm, Epsilon, at around double the #520k they had paid for it in 1987. Epsilon may turn out to be the alpha and omega of ethical landlords, revitalising the estate and running it in full consultation with various eco-bodies. More likely however is that the dumbing-down of the Highlands will continue apace. Phil Collins, Cliff Richard, Terry Wogan ... sadly the greatly-mourned Ginsberg wasn't meaning such as these when he wrote of "the best minds of my generation".

TACish links with the Friends of the Ochils and the Outdoor Writers' Guild have thrown up concerns about a new access blight: circular signs with a red diagonal cutting across a pedestrian. These mimic those banning smoking and the like, and are springing up widely: first noted in Glen Devon, now spreading to the Borders. They have zero legal validity, but can be very dissuasive and intimidating to non-local walkers, so it's good to hear the Ochiline ones have been removed following protests from the Ramblers and the FotO. The newly-formed OWG Access Forum is making moves to trace the source and so stamp out the signs before they proliferate so widely as to become "accepted". Any sightings by readers will be fed into the process if reported to TAC HQ.

These signs might be a new hassle, but there have also been re-run episodes of surliness at an old location, with walkers yet again being given grief by the farmer at Green Well of Scotland (OS77, NX5594). Two standard walking routes lead off from here: westward, to the Rhinns of Kells; eastward, to Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. Ken Stewart hadn't gone far on the first of these before being accosted by the farmer, who said he was "banning" walkers from "the Corbett book route" to Cairnsmore for five weeks in April and May: "I usually like to see walkers, but lambs getting their throats ripped out ... ". There was also a sign to this effect, so Ken stood and discussed the matter, pointing out that he didn't look like a throat-ripper, nor did he have a dog. He felt however that he got nowhere - although, since heading the other way, he was able to continue without further hassle. The farmer - who, given the repeated versions of this story over the years, evidently likes his own voice - also mentioned there being "notes on access" in unspecified books; but he's not to be found in Heading for the Scottish Hills. Unsurprisingly, the banning notices were still there in mid-June; how can farmers and factors ever hope for cooperation/respect/empathy when they persistently treat walkers like complete dimwits with fifteen-second goldfish memories? Is it any wonder we carp ... ?

Ken also reports a quite strict and explicit Aug-Oct stalking notice in Glendessary, and a somewhat better one up Glen Cannich (NH303338), where the suggested call-in at Muchrachd is between the notice and the Mullardoch dam. Your Ed's old haunt of Glen Doll has "partnership" notices (landowners + Forest Enterprise + SNH), although walkers don't appear to qualify as partners since the tone is negative with no preferred routes shown (but no explicit "keep off the hills" statement either). And in Glen Lyon, often a high-handed place, there's a rather misplaced notice re Lawers - at Invervar.

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