Skip to Content
22 Feb 2023

Trust objects to proposed access track in Knoydart

Trust objects to application for an access track from Barrisdale Estate to Loch Quoich - land beside the Trust's Knoydart property.

UPDATE: On 6 March 2023 the Trust was notified that the Highland Council had decided not to support the application for an access track between Barrisdale Estate and Loch Quoich. (Read more about the application and our grounds for objecting below.)

Glen Barrisdale by Grahame Nicoll

The work was described as an 'upgrade and repair' to the existing stalker's path but we felt that by changing the stalker's path into an All Terrain Vehicle (often abbreviated to 'ATV') access track the application amounted to a new development which would significantly alter the character of the area. The Trust engaged with the landowner to discuss our concerns before submitting an objection and we welcome their willingness to engage with us. However, our concerns remained, and we felt we must object on the basis of our charitable objectives.

Key areas of concern

The Wild Land Impact Assessment concludes that the Proposed Development is likely to have a long term “low effect” on the wild land. This is “mainly due to the fact that the track is an existing feature, rather than a new development”. We question the truth of this statement and believe that the impact on wild land has been hugely underestimated.

Firstly, we argue that the Proposed Development amounts to the creation of a new access track. The “existing track” is an old stalker’s path, incomparable to the proposed ATV access track, which would be much wider (a standard 2m width), made of excavated stone, with new culverts and surface re-cambered. The significant difference between the proposed new access track and the existing path has been recognised in many of the public objections already submitted.

Barrisdale hill track

Secondly, the creation of a vehicular track into the heart of this wild land directly conflicts with the remoteness of the area which is a key landscape quality of both the Wild Land Area* and the National Scenic Area. All but one of the key qualities in the Wild Land Area description highlight the remoteness of the area. (*Wild Land Areas were mapped by NatureScot in 2014 following an extensive consultation on where Scotland's wildest lands are. There are 42 Wild Land Areas in Scotland which have been identified and mapped based on physical and perceptual qualities as the most extensive areas of high wildness.)

The description of the National Scenic Area states that is it “one of the remotest places on mainland Britain”. However, a development (such as this proposed track) which opens up an area characterised by its remoteness to vehicular access, significantly changes the quality of this special landscape.

We believe that any proposed development within one of the finest remaining examples of wildness in Scotland, such as this, should be subject to the highest level of scrutiny.

Remoteness is a key quality of this wild land which is both a Wild Land Area and National Scenic Area and creating a vehicular track would significantly change the quality of the area.

  • You can see our full response here.

Photo of Glen Barrisdale in Knoydart by Grahame Nicoll

Muirburn - Kevin Lelland

Help us defend wild places and campaign for their protection

Please donate to our campaign fund

Protect Wild Places Fund