Highland ideas

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In her piece on the Highlands and Islands (Perspective, 10 August) Lesley Riddoch covers a lot of ground, in more ways than one. One of her themes is the paucity of Scottish visitors. Frankly, I don’t see the hordes who jet off each summer in search of sea, sun and sangria ever contemplating instead a visit to the umbrella country where the midge is king.

But there are others and if they have a satisfactory experience they will go again and help boost the area’s economy. Shooters, anglers, climbers and others with special interests will always go – because it’s there.

For the many touring visitors the roads are generally good – the stretches of single track being, for most, part of the fun or “otherness” experience. Some would like more and better caravan and camping sites.

All, I think, would appreciate larger areas where they could pull off the road, take in the view, have a picnic (midges permitting) and, if possible, spend the metaphorical penny. These are matters government could facilitate.

For many, their visit would be enhanced by good local paths, especially beside lochs or sea or up to low vantage points. Good work has been done in some areas but all too often the stroller is faced with a mixture of rough stones and stretches of bog. Bring in the chain gangs.

There are usually opportunities to buy locally made artefacts, but obtaining fresh local produce is often impossible. Why? For the permanent residents, leaving aside the ever contentious matter of wind power, Riddoch correctly emphasises the importance of modern communications.

Another problem is the closure of filling stations. When this happens in a village the inhabitants usually have to drive to a bigger place for petrol. They then tend to shop there, depriving the village store of vital custom. Even where someone is willing to run a pump for no profit there are many obstacles – again something government might address.

Finally, for any of your readers who have never done so, I would urge them to gird up their loins, grab their insect repellent and head off to our Highlands and 
Islands. They are wonderful.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive

Edinburgh