The Angry Corrie 55: Oct-Nov 2002
Access all areas
THE CURRENT EPICENTRE of misanthropic get off my land (even though it isn't actually mine) unpleasantness is Neist Point, westernmost bit of Skye and a popular tourist-stroll destination. Recently, a bloke named Roy Stoten, owner of the lighthouse cottages and the surrounding garden, has erected a CCTV camera along with large signs eg: "Neist Point lighthouse. Warning Private Property. Access is restricted to residents and NLB [Northern Lighthouse Board] employees only. Aren Security UK. The above company monitor and control [sic] this property 24 hours a day." (That's all in CAPITAL LETTERS on the signs, but we'll have no shouting here.) There's also a DIY logo of a walker struck out with a diagonal No Entry line.
Aren Security is Stoten's own firm, and he's been quoted in the West Highland Free Press (13/9/02) as saying he had been "driven" to erect the bugger-off paraphernalia "due to long-running frustrations over a lack of financial support from Highland Council and the local enterprise company in maintaining the path, car park and providing adequate toilet facilities for the visitors". Quite possibly he has become genuinely weary of people asking to use his toilet, but mega-stroppy signs aren't the way to pursue the complaint and certainly not if he's keeping people away from the headland itself, which is evidently happening.
Stoten claims that his tactics have prompted a meeting with Highland Council, from whom he has had "no help in 12 years". If this leads to the signs coming down, then good. But surely the council (which has the community to consider) ought to have a quiet but firm word about the signs, the CCTV and statements such as "I said I would have to close the area if visitor numbers continued to increase, which they have". Stoten has no dominion over "the area" beyond his "house and curtilage".
Stoten also claims that "We haven't physically restrained anyone and people wanting past just go past." This sits uneasily with complaints from a unnamed climber quoted on the MCofS website (www. mountaineering-scotland.org.uk/news/neist.html): "As we walked past this fence on our way down to Conductor Cove we were shouted at by a man who claimed to be the land owner. He asked us to leave and threatened to call his security company, and to block my car in."
The following week's Free Press included a letter from Ocean Graham (great name), the previous owner at Neist. "Roy Stoten," she writes, "owns the lighthouse cottages, the engine room, the occasional lighthouseman's hut and a small area known as the Drying Green [...] He owns NO other part of Neist Point. Neist Point is the common grazing for the Waterstein township. Mr Stoten has NO say in who may walk to Neist Point or use the path. He has NO right to deter visitors or anyone from going to that well-loved beauty spot [...] The damage to the path is mostly caused by his own quad bike, not walkers."
Graham - in finest Reclaimers style - goes on to invite everyone to an "enjoyable walk" over Neist Point on 29 September, and "any other date you would like to visit".
FURTHER TO THE St Kilda access situation (see TAC passim and here pages 13 and 20), the NTS has produced a consultation draft of the St Kilda Management Plan, available from Lorraine Bell, Management Planner, NTS, Wemyss House, 28 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4ET (email@example.com). The more climbers and baggers who feed into this process, the better, as the conservationists and bird-fundamentalists will surely make their voices heard. Any thoughts offered to the NTS could be copied to Mike Dales at the MCofS, The Old Granary, West Mill St, Perth, PH1 5QP (firstname.lastname@example.org).