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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Protest over access to Cuillins
Cuillins
Tourist bodies wanted more access to the Black Cuillins
Owners of tourist businesses in Skye are pressing ahead with a protest against restricted access to the Cuillins.

The landlord of the Black Cuillins - John MacLeod of MacLeod - agreed on Monday to allow limited access to the mountains, reversing his earlier decision.

However, limited access does not go far enough according to protesters.

Local hotelier Steve Bailey will be taking part in the protest.

He says that they are expected to be grateful for MacLeod's compromise, but he is only opening a small part of the estate.

John MacLeod
Mr MacLeod: Limited access
Protesters wanted a much bigger area open to the public including the area around the youth hostel.

Mr Bailey, who owns a bed and breakfast hotel in Talisker and also owns sheep, also says the access that has been granted is illogical - it is forcing more walkers on to the roads where they do tend to encounter more sheep wandering about.

He and around 30 others will still be going ahead with their protest.

McLeod Estates on the island of Skye, faced with a threatened demonstration by members of the tourist trade, said the island's Black Cuillin mountains will be partially reopened.

Horns of a dilemma

In a statement, clan chief John MacLeod of MacLeod says he will allow limited access to the mountains.

Despite the compromise, the planned protest is still going ahead on Tuesday.

The statement said Mr MacLeod is on "the horns of a dilemma".

He said he had to balance the possible outbreak of foot-and-mouth against the major economic difficulties currently being suffered by tourist businesses.

But he said he was concerned there is a tenant farm in Glen Brittle, one of the major access points to the mountains and site of a climber's campsite.

Partial opening

He feared that a case of foot and mouth there would mean all the livestock on the island would have to be culled, destroying traditional farming and crofting there.

But he says he has considered his position with reference to various tourist enterprises dependent on being able to access the mountains - and he will partially reopen the Cuillins.

The mountains will remain closed between Sligachan at the heart of the island and Glen Brittle, while the camp site will stay closed.

The John Muir Trust have now officially re-opened the neighbouring Red Cuillins.

The partial opening of the Black Cuillins will see access through Coruisk, or through ground owned by the John Muir Trust.

There will be no access between Sligachan and Glen Brittle.

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See also:

09 Apr 01 | Scotland
Call for foot-and-mouth vigilance
06 Apr 01 | Scotland
Tourism VAT plan rejected
03 Apr 01 | Scotland
Pyres prompt health fears
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