Ramblers Scotland is calling for the immediate removal of new locked gates that are blocking the public from accessing woods at Kinrara in the Cairngorms, and joining with the Speyside Way that runs through them.
Three electronic gates were recently installed at the beautiful Kinrara Estate south of Aviemore – preventing walkers, cyclists and horse-riders from accessing the popular Speyside Way.
Under Scottish law, there is an obligation on people who own and manage land to ensure that public access is facilitated where access rights apply.
Thousands of people use the Speyside Way each year, bringing many economic benefits to the area. Some will now face long detours to join the trail, with the closest alternatives to Kinrara at Aviemore, Dalraddy Holiday Park and Kincraig.
Cairngorms National Park Authority is investigating the gates, which are blocking three tarmac entrances to the estate grounds. If they remain locked, it is likely that the authority will use legal powers to remove them, although this process can be expensive and lengthy.
Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “We fully support the Cairngorms National Park Authority in their efforts to tackle these gates, which should never have appeared in the first place.
“It’s extremely disappointing that a public body is having to spend time and money on such an avoidable problem, and that access remains blocked during the peak summer season.
"We are calling for the gates to be removed now, so that tourists and residents can once again exercise their access rights, join the Speyside Way and enjoy the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park.”
The Speyside Way links the heart of the Cairngorms with the Moray coast and has been designated as one of Scotland’s Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage.
For more than a decade, Kinrara Estate opposed the construction of an extension of the Speyside Way across its land, on what is the most natural route between Aviemore and Newtonmore. In 2012, the Cairngorms National Park Authority served a Path Order to ensure the extension could go ahead – the first time this legal measure was ever used in Scotland.
Public access in Scotland is based on a balance of rights and responsibilities. Walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and paddlers can enjoy access rights, provided they act responsibly in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code