Highland aristocrat in access row after ‘blocking walking route’ on his land

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A Highland laird has been accused of blocking off a popular walking route near his home.

Simon Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat, has diverted part of a walking route along the Beauly River, removed a car park near Lovat Bridge and blocked off lay-bys with rocks, it has been claimed.

A stretch of walking route by the River Beauly near Lovat Bridge has been diverted, it has been claimed. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk

A stretch of walking route by the River Beauly near Lovat Bridge has been diverted, it has been claimed. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk

Signs saying ‘No parking, no picnics’ are now in place on the private road, according to a BBC report.

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Liz Hoey, a resident who has been walking in the area for more than 20 years, said the changes to the route were disappointing given the long-held popularity of the walk.

She told BBC Scotland: ‘They want you to park in Beauly but that would add on so much of a walk and it’s a single track pavement with big lorries rushing past.

Simon Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat, inherited his title when aged just 18. PIC: TSPL.

Simon Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat, inherited his title when aged just 18. PIC: TSPL.

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“A lot of people I know that used to walk there just can’t now, including a friend who leads the Beauly Walking Group which is a walking group for older people who are trying to exercise to keep healthy and they can’t park anywhere near.

“I’m very disappointed about the whole thing because it’s a beautiful walk that people have used for years.’

A Lovat Estates spokesman told the broadcaster it welcomes walkers but does not want people parking on its private land.

Lord Lovat is a descendant of Simon ‘The Fox’ Fraser who was executed for treason given his support for the 1745 Jacobite rising. He was infamous for his double dealings and served as a spy for the British Government.

It is understood that the current Lord Lovat, who is married to model Petra Palumbo, has recently returned to the Highlands.

He attended Harrow School before completing a degree at the University of Edinburgh, according to reports.

Lord Lovat, who inherited his title aged 18 following the death of his grandfather, lost his seat in the House of Lords following reforms in 1999.

A Highland Council spokesman said the Lovat Circuit of the River Beauly does not come under Scottish right to roam laws, which allow walkers right of access to large parts of the countryside.

They said: ‘The River Beauly - Lovat Circuit is not on the Catalogue of Rights of Way maintained by Scotways, no-one has provided the council with evidence that any of it is a public right of way and, as a circuit, it is unlikely to meet the requirements of a public right of way. The council has received several complaints about it.

‘The complaints have been about the diversion of the path by the river; and the closure of a car park near the Dutch Barn at the junction of the A862 and A831 (notices being placed on cars and walkers being approached while out walking).’

A Lovat spokesman added: ‘We are asking people not to park down a private road, they are very welcome to walk, as is their right.’

They also said the cost of maintaining the blocked off path was spiralling with car damage and parked vehicles were preventing access for farm vehicles.