Wednesday 7 November 2007

Alladale Again: Bothy Closed, PR Machine Ramped Up

The despicable plan to fence the Alladale Estate in NW Scotland and turn it into a safari park that I wrote about on August 15 and September 16 has taken a step forward with the closure of Alladale Bothy, a shelter maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, on November 1. The MBA were informed just two weeks earlier, which is very short notice when there is a need to publicise it and let people know they will now find no shelter in Alladale. Heading for the bothy in a November storm and finding it locked would be unpleasant and possibly dangerous if it was being relied on. Clearly Paul Lister, the estate owner, has little concern for walkers.

In an expanding PR campaign Lister has called for the public to make a sacrifice and give up the right of access to his estate so his “visionary” plan can go ahead, a story covered in two of Scotland’s newspapers recently, The Scotsman and The Sunday Herald. This attempt at overturning the access legislation, fought hard for over many years, must not succeed. There is no need for access to be given up in order for habitats to be restored and animals reintroduced. Landowners closed off the hills for deer in the past, they must not be allowed to do so again for wolves.

Lister says “it would not be practical to have people walking around Alladale while wolves roam". In fact there is no reason why people and wolves couldn’t coexist as they do in many other parts of the world. I’ve walked 1,000s of miles in wolf terrain in North America and seen wild wolves and heard them howling at night, which are wonderful experiences. I’d love to do so in the Highlands. Reintroducing wolves to the Highlands is a great idea but would only work with public support and in areas where the habitat is suitable. I’d like to see more wildness in the Highlands but not a safari park.

Not that everyone will be excluded. For £27,000 you’ll be able to stay for a week and for £50 a day visit the estate in the company of a ranger. So much for the freedom of the hills.

Thanks to R Webb, who posted a comment on my September 16 blog saying it would be interesting to see an update for reminding me that this issue needs airing regularly, until Lister’s plans are defeated. There are two interesting ongoing discussions on the TGO Forum - Alladale Bothy Closed and Species re-introduction or just another zoo?

The photo shows the summit of the Munro Seana Bhraigh, which lies on the estate, in spring. Photo info: Canon EOS 350D, Tamron 11-18mm lens @ 11mm, f8@1/500, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG and processed in Photoshop Elements 5.


  1. Chris, this project, together with donald Trump's £1 billion project for the shifting dunes in Aberdeenshire, just give the impression that those with money feel at liberty to do whatever they like, wherever they like.

    The man who gave us the Trump Plaza now asks us to accept his reassurances that the development will be tasteful and sensitive.

  2. That certainly is the impression. I hope the Trump plans go to a public enquiry.