Field report from Rua Reidh

Image of car blowing up accompanying field report

It appears that matters regarding the Rua Reidh road aren’t yet resolved, despite the recent correspondence from the Northern Lighthouse Board and the Inverasdale Estate. The following comment was attached to a signature on the petition two hours ago:

Just returned from a walk to Camas Mor, we parked at the quarry, part way along the walk we encountered the new owners of the Lighthouse. They informed us we should not have used the road and had wilfully ignored the No Access signage. Undeterred we continued with our walk. On return to our self catering cottage at Big Sand we felt so upset by their attitude we “googled” Rubha Reidh and found this petition site. I fully support the campaign.

If you’re out and about please submit your own field report and tell us about your experience. It would be useful to build up a picture of just what it’s like exploring Rua Reidh nowadays. And the comment above is all the more reason to carry on sharing and signing!

4 thoughts on “Field report from Rua Reidh”

  1. The Following comment is only my opinion and is in no way to be taken to be a legal interpretation of the dispute as to who can and who cannot drive along this private road.

    There are some interesting comments from the land owner (Inverasdale Estate) and the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) which seems to contradict the legal advice put forward by the owners of the residential buildings at the lighthouse. I posted a comment on the petition page along the lines that only the landowner could prevent access, which would appear to be partly incorrect as the landowner has stated that a deed of servitude was signed over to the NLB.

    The estate have been granted the right to build a road and for the NLB to use that road to access the lighthouse and part of the conditions of that deed are that the estate can use the road for various reasons as previously stated. One of those reasons is for “sporting” which I would suggest includes more than just fishing. Any one using the pier to access the sea would be partaking of a “sport”.

    There is also a Right Of Way signpost directing walkers to the right of way across to Cove, surely walking/rambling would be considered to fall under the category of “sporting”. Given that the estate are happy for people to use the road for fishing this must also extend to anyone else undertaking sporting activities from the lighthouse and beyond, which I would argue includes all and any recreational activities, from bird watching to whale watching or simply enjoying the views and the beauty of the surroundings.

    The following points, in my opinion, show that the current owners cannot prevent anyone from using the road by using whichever means they wish.

    1. The estate have stated that there is no permission for signs to be erected other than by the NLB, therefore the current owners do not have permission to put up their sign, unless already granted by the estate, which does not appear to have happened. Therefore they have illegally erected a sign the content of which cannot be enforced. Dito if the sign is actually on the public road.

    2. The NLB have the right to erect a gate, which cannot be locked or restrict access, but the NLB have stated that they do not wish to put a gate in place. No one else (other than the estate) could install a gate and even then would most likely require planning permission.

    3. The lawyers for the NLB have stated that the NLB does not control the road and has no power to grant additional rights of access over the road and do not have the power to exclude others from taking access. Therefore who does, obviously not the individuals who own the residential buildings as they only own the buildings and presumably some of the land around those buildings but not the entire road as we have been told that the NLB own the road.

    4. From what the estate has noted they have the right to allow people to use the road for the purposes mentioned within the deed of servitude, if they (the estate) do not have any objections to the road being used. From the content of their correspondence the estate does not appear to have any objections to the road being used as long as only suitable vehicles are using the road.

    5. The car park area in the borrow pit can be used for parking which I presume must be part of the estate and not the road, therefore the owners of the lighthouse buildings cannot prevent anyone from using this area to park their cars.

    6. Clearly the road is not owned by those living in the buildings at the lighthouse, they have the right to use the road if they wish but cannot restrict anyone else from using the road. Even the NLB who are the owners of the road cannot prevent anyone from using the road.

    7. The owners have stated that they are happy for people to use the road, other than by car and the reason that they wish to restrict car usage on the road is due to the wear and tear caused to the road by traffic usage. The reason for this seems to be for privacy for themselves and their guests at the B&B and possibly due to the cost of having to pay their share for any road repairs passed on to them by the NLB. Whilst sympathetic to this you cannot prevent someone from passing by your property when you do not even own the land. As far as the cost of repairs is concerned, when you purchase a property that requires access along a 3 mile long private road this comes with the consequences of having to pay your share of any repairs, regardless as to who else uses the road. This is no different to anyone living in a flat or other shared buildings where all residents have to pay for roof and building repairs regardless as to who or what caused the damage.

    We should all continue to use the road as we have previously, unless the Inverasdale Estate advise otherwise. They being the landowners, appear to be the only ones that could prevent anyone from using the road by strict interpretation of the deed of servitude which grants the estate the right to use the road for private use, normal estate business, agricultural business and for sporting purposes. The estate can use the road for any of these purposes and have stated that they are happy for people to use the road for fishing, my thoughts are that if the estate is happy for you to use the road then you must fall within one of the aforementioned categories and the conditions of the deed of servitude are not breached.

    Unless the Estate restricts access to only those who are part of the estate and or those that have a business/residential reason for using the road then the individuals concerned cannot, in my opinion, prevent me or anyone else from driving along the road, provided that given the nature of the road a suitable vehicle is used.

    1. Thanks, Scott – very detailed and, I think, very solid.

      One thing: I suspect there might be a legal definition of ‘sporting’ which might restrict things to hunting, shooting and fishing (etc.) Having said that, however, the Inversdale Estate has not, as far as I am aware, raised any objection either now or in the past to people driving the road to park and wander.

      Regarding the maintenance of the road: it appears that the owners of the keeper’s accommodation do not contribute to the cost of this. This is a screengrab of a post from their own Facebook page – this particular comment was deleted in the last few days, but the rest of the thread is still extant.

      Screengrab of Facebook post regarding contribution or otherwise to maintenance costs of the road to Rua Reidh lighthouse

    2. That’s pretty comprehensive Scott. And if I’m not mistaken in my interpretation, in its recent correspondence, the Estate points us all out to its sanguine approach to the public continuing to enjoy sports in the area.

      It’s good to see that the Scottish government has also clarified its position on private roads with public right of passage (which includes verges and bridges etc). The government has provided this clarification in direct response to the current ‘plight’ being endured as a result of the McLachlans actions. I’m not sure if that clarification has been posted on here, but I’m sure it may well be so in the pretty near future.

      It would be great if the McLachlans would at least review their current position based on the sheer volume of objections/ rebuttals being posted on various sites and via email directly to them.

      Keep us posted if you can please? I see the administrators to this site have kindly published the McLachlans real and most honest take on the road – though I understand this post was recently deleted by them? It’s good to know that even the McLachlans once acknowledged where the responsibility for the road lies and who is allowed to use it, though I note they now appear to resile from that position.

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