Hilltrack on Ledgowan Estate

Last year, in a series of blogs, I highlighted a number of issues relating to Ledgowan Estate – in particular the controversy over the construction of an ugly bulldozed track.

The story was promoted by an incident over public access which arose during an inspection of the track by Dr Kenneth Brown who was investigating the track as part of a research project by Scottish Environment Link. Its report – Track Changes – was published in October 2013 and called for hilltracks to be subject to full planning control rather than the existing system of Permitted Development Orders. A Parliamentary Briefing can be found here and the full report here (5.3Mb pdf).

Last month, Scottish Land and Estates published a response to this report – The Way Ahead for Constructed Private Tracks – which challenged many of the findings of the Link report and asserted that the Track Changes report “has not been helpful in the debate” and “should have been more closely scrutinised, especially as it makes allegations about specific estates and was written with public funding.”

Scottish Environment Link has refuted these and other allegations made against its report in a further report published today in which it argues that,

“We find Scottish Land and Estates’ statements in their report about scrutiny and LINK’s charitable status strange and inappropriate. The issues raised in the Track Changes report fully comply with LINK’s charitable purposes and funding for the report was received from member contributions and charitable trusts. It is entirely proper that LINK uses its funds for this purpose.

The Way Ahead for Constructed Private Tracks makes a number of specific criticisms of our report, and we respond to these below. Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) claim that Track Changes contained ‘fundamental misconceptions’, ‘incorrect information’, ‘out of date photographs’ and ‘misleading’ points. These claims are baseless, and are not supported by anything in The Way Ahead for Constructed Private Tracks. It is unfortunate that Scottish Land and Estates have simply sought to discredit Track Changes without engaging with its main arguments, and while ignoring much of the evidence it contains. The basis for our campaign remains unaltered by their response..”

In the Spring edition of the SLE’s magazine, it argues that voluntary guidelines are adequate and urges its members to follow them.

The debate continues.

Meanwhile, a wee bit of history. One of the tracks that attracted a deal of criticism over the years was the one up Beinn a Bhuird in the Cairngorms. It has now been restored by the National Trust for Scotland but here’s an article from the January 1968 edition of Scottish Field explaining the background and purpose of its construction in 1966.


  1. I am not surprised that SLE are rattled by the Hill Tracks report, given the particularly damning photographic evidence in it.

    The worst track listed in the report is the one at Ledgowan, which is also one of the newest. So the age of the other tracks is completely irrelevant. It is the current system which allows landowners to build such things across the hills.

    The mention of the charitable status of LINK and it’s member organisations is completely irrelevant and smacks of the Chewbacca Defence. The advancement of environmental protection is specifically listed as a charitable purpose under the law. Charitable activity should also have a public benefit. How could there NOT be a public benefit in campaigning for the public to have a say in developments that affect them?

  2. Hebridean Farmer

    Business Scotland has a very apt quote for this one;

    ” It’s hard for someone to understand something when their income or salary depends on them not understanding it ”

    I think SLaE should take a long hard look at things, and try to understand.

  3. Margaret Gardiner

    Mere echo to the above comments.

    Such bulldozing of beautiful countryside cannot be permitted to continue.