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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Walkers form court fighting fund
Kinfauns Castle
The ramblers want to walk in the castle grounds
A group of ramblers caught in a legal battle over access to Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag's Perthshire estate has launched a fighting fund.

Ramblers Association Scotland is aiming to raise at least 20,000 for its court challenge.

Mrs Gloag has been allowed a court hearing to stop the public walking in the grounds of Kinfauns Castle.

She is arguing that her guests need special security and protection and that there is a risk of kidnapping.

The association, which has criticised Mrs Gloag for erecting a fence around the Kinfauns Castle estate, has appealed to its 7,000 members and the public for donations to help them fight the landmark case.

'Rare woodland'

The organisation has also hired John Campbell QC ahead of the hearing, due to take place at Perth Sheriff Court later this year.

Ramblers Association Scotland director Dave Morris said: "If Ann Gloag was to win this case, it would set a dangerous precedent which could be used by other landowners in Scotland who wish to exempt land from statutory access rights.

"As a charitable organisation, we are not able to compete on a level playing field with one of Scotland's richest women."

Mrs Gloag has applied for a "declarator" that access rights do not apply to an area of 12 acres enclosed by a mile-long security fence.

The seven-foot high security fence encloses an area of native woodland which the ramblers claim included rare conifers.

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