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It’s time to bridge the past, present and future at Glenfeshie

By Contributor

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The iconic crossing on Glenfeshie is still much missed and needs replacing.
The iconic crossing on Glenfeshie is still much missed and needs replacing.

When Glenfeshie Estate last came up for sale in 2006 the Scottish Government declined to buy it for the nation and it remained in private hands. It’s now owned by the Danish billionaire retailer Anders Holch Povlsen, Scotland’s biggest private landowner.

Most people will not be aware that there was once a thriving community in Glenfeshie before previous owners forced them off their land.

Today’s landowners claim to treat folk much better today than their predecessors and that’s probably true, but as more of them buy land for carbon off-setting and to promote their pet projects we the people still have no say in what they do.

We do still have the right to roam, but even here we are completely reliant on the owners to give us access.

When I first walked up Glenfeshie more than 30 years ago the access was much better than today.

There was a crossing over the Burn Allt Garbhlach at the start of the walk just through Achlean farm. No longer though and that means that when the burn is in spate there is not much chance of making it any further.

From here we went to the pony bridge and crossed over to the estate road leading to Glenfeshie Lodge.

Before the lodge was the Carnachuin footbridge leading to the Ruigh Aiteachain bothy. This got swept away in a spate over a decade ago and the estate has still not managed to replace it. Instead, walkers are forced to walk on the other side of the river Feshie which can become impassable in wet weather.

So where is the access? It’s time for the estate to rebuild the bridge and allow easy access to the bothy and the site of the original Landseer bothy, where painter Edward Landseer may well have painted the Monarch of the Glen. The chimney stack is still there today.

To be fair, the estate has done a magnificent job upgrading the bothy, even providing a copy of the famous painting for visitors to see.

It’s time, though, Mr Povlsen, to spend a wee bit of your money on restoring proper access and rebuilding the iconic footbridge.

• Now the so-called Greens have joined the Nationalists in government, everyone is looking for evidence of greener policies. Apparently one move afoot is to abandon the upgrading of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen.

One wonders what planet these people live on. This road is easily the most economically important link for the Highland capital but had been ignored for decades. Instead, all the focus has been on the Nationalist vanity project of dualling the A9. All this does is to allow easy access to the Highlands for thousands of motor homes that clog up the road every summer and bring virtually no economic benefit.

One positive move the greens could make would be to force through the reinstatement of the ferry link between Scotland and Europe. At the moment, all big lorries and holiday traffic has to drive down to England to get across to Europe. Surely it makes sense to stop this and reopen the ferry from Rosyth to Zeebrugge. Given that the SNP can’t even seem to run the ferries to the islands efficiently, I can see why people may be sceptical – but surely it’s worth giving it a go?

Charlie Whelan was one-time spokesman for Gordon Brown.

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