GATES which were controversially closed earlier this year, blocking access to a popular Highland walking route, including the famous ‘Whisky Trail’, have been reopened.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority and the owners of Kinrara Estate have announced that following positive discussions newly installed gates on estate driveways will remain open.
Kinrara Estate has confirmed that the gates had not been operated as they had intended when they authorised their installation and the intention was never to restrict access but rather to regulate access given concerns of anti-social behaviour and other issues.
The CNPA had been investigating a potential contravention of the Land Reform Act on Kinrara Estate after it was reported that three new electronic gates had been installed on the Estate, which hindered people accessing the Speyside Way at three different locations.
David Clyne, CNPA Recreation and Access Manager, said: “We are pleased to report that we have had some very constructive and positive discussions with Kinrara Estate’s legal representatives and as a result the gates have been opened.”
Campaigners had accused a landowner in the Highlands of preventing the public from accessing an estate in the Cairngorms.
Three locked gates have appeared in the ‘Whisky Trail’ route near the Kinrara Estate, which is a part of the Speyside Way near Aviemore.
A potential breach of public access rights is now being investigated by the Cairngorms National Park Authority after complaints about the electronic gates were received.
Ramblers Scotland say that walkers and cyclists have been blocked from using the route after the gates appeared on three entrances to the Estate.
Gates are allowed on estates under the Land Reform Act, though the owners of land are obliged to ensure that access for walkers is maintained.
Brendan Paddy, Ramblers Scotland Director, said: “We fully support the CNPA 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.”
The estate has a historically uneasy relationship with public assess rights and regulations, opposing the extension of the Speyside Way on the estate.
An unprecedented Path Order was issued five years ago to ensure that the extension was constructed.