SCOTLAND’S best-loved hiking trail could be blocked by a sprawling new development, according to outdoors enthusiasts.
The 96-mile-long West Highland Way, from just north of Glasgow to Fort William, takes in some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes and draws 80,000 hikers from across the world every year.
But users have said the redevelopment of one of the iconic route’s hotels could threaten access to the trail.
The owners of the 17th century Kings House Hotel on Rannoch Moor in Glen Coe have put forward plans for a total overhaul of their buildings.
Believed to be one of the country’s oldest licensed inns, the hotel sits on the West Highland Way, and is one of the only available lodging places on the last leg of the route.
Black Corries Estate, the group which owns the Kings House, plans to extend the hotel, build a new service building, upgrade the access road and bridge, create a car park and carry out landscaping works. It claims that this “substantial investment will secure its future”.
However, the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society has submitted an objection to the proposals.
The society’s inquiries officer, Eleisha Fahy, has pointed out that building work would be taking place on both sides of the trail.
She wrote: “As a result we are concerned to have not seen any detail about how public access is to be maintained and how site traffic will be managed during the construction phase.”
She also said that no detail had been offered on access to the site while work was being carried out. The society is also concerned about the impact of the building work on the local cultural heritage of the trail.
Both the Kings House and the neighbouring Caulfield Bridge were important parts of the route’s history when it was used as a military road network.
Susanna Thomson of Bidwells, the managing agent for Black Corries Estates, said: “The West Highland Way comes right through the area around the hotel and that has been the central point to the plan for the hotel, as that’s where most of our guests come from and we want to make the best of it.”
She also said that the redevelopment would include public toilets for walkers.