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Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 09:46 GMT
Clan chief urged to donate peak
Cuillins
The MacLeod clan has owned the range for 1,000
The clan chief who is selling one of Scotland's best known mountain ranges has been urged to donate it to the nation.

The call to John MacLeod, who owns the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye, has come from the retiring president of the Ramblers' Association Scotland, John Foster.

He believes the country's "finest landscape" should not be hiked around the world property market.


John MacLeod
John MacLeod: "Very sad"
Mr MacLeod, the 29th chief of his clan, announced last week he was putting the mountain range on the market for 10m.

He said he needed the money to pay for repairs to the ancestral home, Dunvegan Castle.

Addressing the ramblers annual meeting in Musselburgh on Saturday, Mr Foster said it was absurd that the "roof of Skye was being traded in, so that a leaky roof in Dunvegan Castle could be fixed".

He said no other European country allowed landowners the freedom to asset strip in such a way.

Difficult decision

And he suggested that if Mr MacLeod wanted to set an example of sound leadership of landowning interests in Scotland, he should donate the Cuillins to the people.

In return, Mr Foster argues, public funding organisations should help the clan preserve the castle.


Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle: Upgrade needed
The MacLeod clan has owned the mountains for more than 1,000 years and Mr MacLeod said the decision to sell was the most difficult one he has had to make.

Around 145,000 people visit Dunvegan Castle every year and money from the sale will be used to help make accessible parts of the 800-year-old attraction not currently open to the public, as well as funding structural repairs.

It is anticipated around 120 additional jobs would be created as a result of the improvements.

Meanwhile, there is already talk of a public bid for the mountains - though many believe the price is far too steep.

The conservation group, the John Muir Trust - which has already expressed an interest in buying the Black Cuillins - paid only 700,000 for the neighbouring Strathaird estate.

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