Hebridean Way a long-term project
Sir, – Thank you to Dr Eleanor Kennedy for visiting the Outer Hebrides, being among the first to walk the new Hebridean Way and sharing her experience (last week’s Gazette letters).
I am glad that she found the scenery inspiring and received a warm welcome from the islanders she met along the way.
It is disappointing to hear that the route signage and infrastructure in places detracted from her enjoyment.
At Outer Hebrides Tourism, we believe the landscape of the Outer Hebrides both merits and deserves a long-distance path to rival the established routes on the mainland.
We recognize that an attraction of the quality of the West Highland Way, now well into its fourth decade, takes many years of dedication and investment to achieve.
As a new path, it is inevitable that we will have some way to go in matching this experience – for example, in the provision of group accommodation and the quality of the walking surface.
The moorland around Balallan has so far defeated all efforts to tame it and, while the peat remains wet, we reluctantly put a diversion in place along the road until further work can be done on the ‘geotextile” route.
It is unfortunate that while Dr Kennedy was walking the route the council had lots of “boots on the ground”, working hard to get the essentials in place ahead of the official launch of the Hebridean Way on April 25.
We encourage other walkers – both locals and visitors – who come across problems with any section of the walk to leave feedback on our website (www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/hebridean-way) so they can be investigated and, where necessary, addressed to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and rewarding visit.
Finally, walkers are of course, welcome to walk the route from either end.
We simply suggest South to North to increase the chances of having both the sun and the wind at your back rather than in your face. – Yours, etc.,
Robert McKinnon, Vice Chairman
Outer Hebrides Tourism
Time for Hebrides national park
Sir, – Congratulations are due to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for leading local efforts to establish the long distance walking route, the Hebridean Way (Stornoway Gazette, April 28, “Hebridean Way walking offers new way to explore islands”).
At a time when most local authorities in Scotland are making pathetic progress in establishing new walking and cycling routes and failing to remove obstructions to public access, it is good to know the opposite is true in the far west.
Perhaps all that land now in community ownership in the Hebrides is underpinning this progress and should be a lesson for the rest of us.
The outstanding natural beauty of the Outer Hebrides and its significance, for both locals and visitors, is well known. Surely now is the time to ask, once again, if these islands deserve recognition within Scotland’s national park system.
As the newly-elected members of the Comhairle take their seats next week, the opportunity is there to examine the economic and environmental case for Scotland’s third national park to be on their doorstep.
A national park under local control and incorporating the finest scenery, historic and wildlife areas from Barra to Lewis, perhaps with the addition of St Kilda, would be of global significance, fully justifying world heritage status.
It would immediately register on the tick list of all visitors to the UK who were seeking out our best areas of nature and culture.
As a value-for-money public investment it would be unbeatable, as any economist or tourism operator, from ferry owner to bed and breakfast provider, will confirm.
An Outer Hebrides National Park could also benefit from the experiences of our first two national parks, in the Cairngorms and in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
This should include learning from the mistakes, such as the secretive purchase by Forestry Commission Scotland, using £7.4m of public funds, of privately-owned native woodland in the Cairngorms, when that woodland was under no threat and, in the Loch Lomond Park, the disastrous camping byelaws project.
This publicly-funded attack on our statutory rights of access to Scotland’s land and water is delivering nothing more than camping sites in places where nobody wants to camp; the threat of criminal conviction even when that camping is done responsibly, following “leave no trace” principles; and a ranger service that has not yet learnt how to deal with litter.
Perhaps Scottish ministers would make more progress if they slashed the budgets of FCS and LLTNP, transferred all the money saved to the Comhairle and asked them to continue their good work in the far west. – Yours, etc.,
Dave Morris, Kinross
We need MP who puts Isles first
Sir, – Next month, constituencies across the UK will choose their MPs for the next five years.
In the Western Isles, we have yet another opportunity to elect a credible person to represent us at Westminster.
We are in desperate need of a decent, competent and hard-working MP.
I am delighted that Ealasaid MacDonald (nee Nicholson) has been chosen by the Labour Party as its candidate. Ealasaid is a very capable and decent woman whom I have known since I taught her at Lionacleit School.
I have followed her progress through Aberdeen University and beyond.
She has now been re-settled in the islands for several years with her husband and family in Stornoway.
I sincerely hope that she secures support from the electorate in June to allow her to use her many talents and abilities to promote and fight to improve our islands.
I know that Ealasaid has the necessary qualities to make a real impact.
As our new MP, Ealasaid would begin the process of restoring the former good name of our islands, sadly lost as a result of years of negative headlines and acres of newspaper print about our MP.
Not one headline or any of the repetitive stories over the past 12 years in which he featured, has improved our lives or work in our islands.
We now need an MP who is focussed and able to take on the many issues of vital importance and deal with them in a professional and respectable manner.
We desperately need an MP who will put the islands first – one who does not disgrace us, and actually does represent us.
Ealasaid MacDonald has all the necessary qualities for this important and honourable position. – Yours, etc.,
Ada H Campbell (by email)
Sir, – It is clearly evident that SNP members at Westminster do not have their own mind. Rather, they are dictated to by what their militant bosses in Edinburgh say, and woe to any member who ignores them.
‘Do as you are told’ is the instruction from Holyrood: ‘we will unequivocally comply with your wishes’ is the unanimous response.
When MPs recently voted for a snap General Election on June 8, the SNP group remained silent.
Instead of voting, they all – yes all – abstained.
One would honestly think they didn’t want their political hot-seat in the House of Commons to be filled by them again.
Well, think again!
Since Theresa May made the formal announcement, these very SNP MPs have been very vocal in the press, media and on the streets, clamouring to get your vote and back into Westminster.
What sheer hypocrisy.
Political correctness silenced them in voting for an election.Now none are more active and as boisterous in capitalising on every opportunity to win your vote, desperately so, and get re-elected.
Are they trying to hoodwink the people of Scotland?
If, as these SNP MPs vigorously claim: ‘We are to be followed’, then surely the best and wisest thing that voters can do on June 8, is follow their example and abstain from voting for them.
Muted they were, when they were asked to vote, and so should we be.
The best thing that can happen on June 8, is that they all lose their seat at Westminster. – Yours, etc.,
Donald J Morrison, Inverness
Sir, – I don’t worship Prince Philip like the islanders of Tanna in Vanuatu but I do admire his stiff upper lip as well as his politically incorrect attitude to foreigners and fawning officials.
Will we ever again have a Royal who asks Australian aborigines if they still chuck spears at each other or a Scottish driving instructor how he manages to keep his clients sober?
Prince Charles’ green lunacy and the emotional incontinence of his sons make one long for Phil the Greek’s reserve, uncomplaining fortitude and refusal to discuss “inner feelings”. – Yours, etc.,
Rev Dr John Cameron (address supplied)