A warm welcome on Iona^

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PeterG
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A warm welcome on Iona^

Post by PeterG » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:22 pm

It seems that Kate D was very lucky on Iona
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... ng#p426131

Two of us were there last week and having rounded the Island with a significant SW swell, landed on the beach at the N end. At dusk a lady came along, the crofter, who told us to leave and that camping was forbidden on the island and that she has a letter from Alex Salmond himself confirming that Iona is exempt from access legislation due to its environmental sensitivity.

She patrols the shoreline every night looking for kayakers who might be tempted to bivouac and has lots of trouble with them, but not apparently readers of this forum. I asked her if there was anywhere we could camp and she said 'go back South to England', and that, when I was still trying charm and patting her dogs etc.. Did she feel any responsibility that we might get into trouble at night on the sea? Not a bit, by coming to Iona we had brought drowning upon ourselves.

We packed up and set off across the Sound, with her and her husband circling on a quad bike (don't ask about the environmental effects of quad bikes on sand dunes, no doubt Alex says it is good for them), basking in the achievement of having drowned two kayakers and Englishmen to boot!

Abandoned by the Christian Gods of Iona, fortune smiled on us in the shape of Jupiter rising low over the Ross of Mull, just above where we thought a beach might be. Once across it was pitch dark and, out of the swell, there was nothing to indicate half submerged reefs, or even the rocky islets. A playful tide ebbing between the rocks tugged at the bow and stern, invisible eddies. Were the VHF and flares handy enough?

Trusting to Jupiter, even though up to the last few metres it looked like a wall of rock ahead, we landed on a tiny steep shingle beach with a grassy spot above. Mull had welcomed us back.

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:50 pm

Lovely - I must go there - it would seem she may need to read some of the locally provided information!

I seem to recall Douglas had published contact details for the various local authority officials charged with access issues, but a quick search hasn't found it. Douglas??

You could also report this incident to the SCA - there's a contact and details form here.

While digging around on this, I came across a similar comment on one the cycling forums, specifically detailing a problem with a crofter on the north end of the island. See here. Could well be the same one I suppose.

It IS possible to get exemptions from the LR (Scotland) Act, but generally these are either in the context of the Loch Lomond situation OR for short terms for some specific purpose. Details from the Argyle & Bute website here. There are no such orders as at time of my writing this.

Regs, Mike

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ian_Montrose » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:04 pm

I don't understand why you gave in to her demands.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Pete » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:54 pm

Anyone fancy a gathering of sea kayakers on Iona for a weekend??

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Jim
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Jim » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:36 pm

Ian_Montrose wrote:I don't understand why you gave in to her demands.
Threatening behaviour by the husband on quad?

If so this should be reported to the Police.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:59 pm

Peter I feel ashamed of the way this small minded, bigoted woman has treated you as a visitor to Scotland. I am not aware of any exemption of the SLRA applying to Iona. There was also a camping ban on Colonsay pre SLRA and there still is if you arrive by car for "car camping" but at least on Colonsay they have recognised that true wild camping is allowed.

Not all people on Iona think wild camping is banned, the Argyll hotel, Iona has a full quotation from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code on their Country Code of Island Life page includiong wild camping.

I think you should complain to the access officer about her unreasonable, uncaring, unlawful, aggressive and bigoted behaviour to both the police and to Sue Williams on the number below.

Rather than all arrive at once, which would not be allowed under the SLRA, we should make a point of landing and camping there in small numbers on a regular basis.

Here are the SW Scotland access officers:

South of Ardnamurchan if you have any access problems contact

Highland: Alistair Stewart 01397 707050

Argyll and Bute: Sue Williams 01546 604228

Inverclyde: Janice Boyd 01475 712417

North Ayrshire and Arran: Louise Kirk 01294 225198

South Ayrshire: David Gray 01292 616649

Dumfries and Galloway: Alison Keith 01387 260341

Douglas

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Pete » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:33 pm

Douglas Wilcox wrote:Rather than all arrive at once, which would not be allowed under the SLRA, we should make a point of landing and camping there in small numbers on a regular basis.
Douglas, what are the permissible numbers under SLRA please?

Thanks,
Pete

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:51 pm

Thanks Douglas.

I've also come accross a this useful map with details of access officers.

I have a suspicion that something is afoot within the crofting community as a backlash to LRSA - Barra is now largely a "no go" area for the motor home brigade and the Isle of Barra website makes the (valid) point that the rights granted under LRSA do not extend to vehicle camping.

This essentially preludes anyone engaging in "car camping" from making use of the Act. Which could well be a solution to the mass desecration being wrought along most the lochs in Scotland where there is easy road / vehicle access. I digress.

But returning to the point - it seems there are many people who are desperate to stop access, and are doing so in a variety of ways. Many of those ways are quite possibly illegal and I'm very much of the same view as Douglas that all such activity should be brought to the attention of the relevant access officers and/or the SCA. The Act requires local authorities to uphold these rights.

Scottish National Heritage produce a useful brochure (pdf) - perhaps printing a few copies and taking them on trips to give to anyone telling you to move on could be useful?

Mike.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ian_Montrose » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:07 pm

I think it's a shame that all too often people are intimidated into giving up their legal right to access. My stance to those that might challenge me is simple:

"I believe I have a legal right to be here. If you feel otherwise then I suggest you either contact the police, if you believe I'm in breach of criminal law, or your solicitor if you feel civil law is more relevent. In the meantime I would advise you that harrasment and threatening behaviour is very much a criminal offence and I will report you to the police if you continue".

Alternatively, I might just tell them to p*ss off. Depends on my mood really.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:05 pm

Ian, spot on response!

Pete>
Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done
in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can
camp in this way wherever access rights apply but help to avoid causing
problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields
of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or
historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse
shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s
permission. Leave no trace by:
• taking away all your litter;
• removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the
guidance for lighting fires);
• not causing any pollution.
6.15 If you are exercising access rights and come across what you believe is a
deliberate or unreasonable obstruction that stops or hinders you from exercising
access rights, you could report this to the local authority. The local authority could
then decide what to do in terms of removing the obstruction and upholding access
rights.
Small numbers is not defined but I think about 6 or less could be considered a small number.

Douglas

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by ian johnston » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:54 pm

Peter,

Firstly, like Douglas I'm ashamed of the welcome you received on Iona from a small minded, bigoted nimby.

Please, please report this to the Access Officer. The long and winding road which brought us to the Access legislation within the Land Reform Act was in part a response to just such behaviour. I can understand your moving on - (though Ian's response is the one I'd personally have used); if you don't report this incident, it'll keep happening.

Kind Regards

Ian

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ran » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:12 pm

Hi,
Another very local organisation whom should be made aware of this illegal attitude is the Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) they have just employed a ranger who is part funded by NTS and I think SNH also, they will have an obligation to promote the SOAC (Access code) and should take this cause up.

They have a website with contact details.
Good luck and I hope you do challenge this sort of nonsense. Im in the countryside management game myself, if I hear or am in a position to bring this up I will.
regards
Ran

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Mr Hoppy
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Mr Hoppy » Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:32 pm

MikeB wrote:Barra is now largely a "no go" area for the motor home brigade and the Isle of Barra website makes the (valid) point that the rights granted under LRSA do not extend to vehicle camping.

Mike.
No it isn't, we got there and found plenty of information on where facilities were located and a welcoming attitude to our van. They provide a leaflet specifically for campervans that says where shower, toilet, etc facilities are but doesn't mention restrictions on where you can stop. Coll & Tiree on the otherhand are very restrictive with requirements to pre book and restictions on numbers in areas.

Chris

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ken_T » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:16 am

Hi Peter,
I'm sorry to hear you had such an unpleasent experience on Iona. May I suggest that if & when this sort of thing happens that you video it if your camera is handy, so that you have some objective evidence. Copies of the video could be given to the police, Scotland access officers & the SCA when you complain about the incident. I hope the rest of your stay went well.
Ken

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Surf or Die » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:36 am

I'm sorry your visit to iona was marred by this incident. As the others have said report, report, report.

Maybe e-mail Mr Salmond and ask him about this letter????
Andy

Daddy tell me about girls?

Son, one day you will make a girl very happy for a short period of time. Then she'll leave you and be with new men who are ten times better than you could ever hope to be.

These men are called kayakers.

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:12 pm

Mr Hoppy wrote:
MikeB wrote:Barra is now largely a "no go" area for the motor home brigade and the Isle of Barra website makes the (valid) point that the rights granted under LRSA do not extend to vehicle camping.

Mike.
No it isn't, we got there and found plenty of information on where facilities were located and a welcoming attitude to our van. They provide a leaflet specifically for campervans that says where shower, toilet, etc facilities are but doesn't mention restrictions on where you can stop. Coll & Tiree on the otherhand are very restrictive with requirements to pre book and restictions on numbers in areas.

Chris
It is significantly more restrictive now in comparison to what it was, the Barra website specifically advising that it isn't acceptable to merely drive onto the macaire, car camp etc. etc. Which is perfectly true and a good thing. That some advice is being given to people with vans is a better thing, and the provision of some facilities an even better one.

The majority of the small islands, notably those that are community owned, are taking a stance on vehicle based camping which essentially precludes taking a vehicle and just finding a spot somewhere. That formal facilities tend not to exist in the first place on these very small islands, so encouraging people to go wild, is neither here nor there, although there does seem to be an increase in the number of crofters / farmers providing a small number of informal pitches.

Generally speaking, I find these islands will welcome visitors - but that doesn't mean everyone who lives there will do likewise.

I'd love to see Alex's letter.

Mike.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Hakuna Matata » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:57 pm

I read this post when I saw the Subject and thought 'What - someone's had a warm welcome on Iona!!!'.

I hope action can be taken against these people. Iona is a lovely island with at times challenging paddling, and the feeling is often spoiled upon landing and meeting people like this, or due to hearing many similar stories.

The bunkhouse at the north end is really nice and run by a kayaker who was taught by John Young in Edinburgh, but the nature of a paddling trip means that it's seldom possible to book ahead to use the likes of a bunkhouse. Even if we could plan that, I now wonder how safe it is leaving our kayaks on the beach while staying there!

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:03 pm

There are always two sides to a story and it would be very interesting to hear the crofter's version. Perhaps they just don't want people on "their" land. Perhaps they have suffered at the hands of the less responsible campers who leave a trail of desecration behind them wherever they go. Mike

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Hakuna Matata » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:28 pm

Peter has a point in being cautious. A few years ago, I heard of a kayaking couple who camped at the north end and returned from a walk to find that milk had been poured all over their belongings. They later found their tent dumped at the pier. Maybe the crofters have changed from physical action to lies & intimidation with the introduction of the Outdoor Access Code, but this is still not acceptable behaviour.

I would hope that it would be easy to recognise that the kayakers were responsible campers who were using the code in its intended form.

It would be interesting to get a response from the NTS as Iona is listed as one of their properties.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by NorthBank » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:22 pm

Could I ask if it was the beach on the North East or North West? The bunkhouse is in the North West and the people there are very hospitable and friendly and I very much doubt if they would resort to intimidation if anyone landed on the beach there. There is an 'official' campsite on the island only a mile or so from the North, a few hundred yards from the pier where the road goes over the island.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by PeterG » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:56 pm

Thanks for all the replies. We go kayaking for peace and quiet, not confrontation, so I prefer to melt away. Having said that, I was disappointed all my attempts at charm failed, this couple are a really hard case. I have had discussions with stalkers and landowners in the past, but always managed to part on friendly terms, often coming away with a meal into the bargain.

It is the croft on the extreme N or NE of the island, maybe they have had problems with riotous parties of kayakers. In a SW swell there are few landing places before this as the beaches are mainly behind rock walls. F6 was forecast in the night or we would just have crossed to Eilean Annraidh and laughed as they fumed 100m away on the beach.

The rest of our paddle went well, before and after Iona, and even well on Iona, especially the witches caldron inside Stac an Aoineidh at the SW tip, great paddling country. The weather turned at the weekend, forcing us to make the portage from Loch Na Keal to Salen and then paddle in SW F8/9 down to Craignure to catch the ferry back to Oban. Thankfully mostly sheltered and slightly storm-behind-us. However, the point and skerries just before Craignure, allowing 1/2 mile fetch for the sea to build, was very challenging, the wind tearing the tops off the waves

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:48 pm

There appears to be a croft up at the NE end of the island where the crofters are having a terrible time with visitors wandering all over their land, allowing dogs to roam free and with campers who bury their excrement in the dunes and whose presence prevents their beasts from reaching the springs. (Of water I presume?)

They've documented all their problems here.

It makes fascinating reading and details some apparantly very real problems this person is having.

Interestingly, while they seem to have a problem with the Land Reform Act from the perspective of people having a right of access, they are seeking to use it for the purpose of buying their croft. Shes also lost a significant grant (£3000) because of non Code compliant signage.

There's no mention of having managed to get a letter from Alex Salmond which renders the LRA invalid on this particular croft, so it can't be the same one that Pete had trouble with - -

Mike.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Mark R » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:08 pm

MikeB wrote:There are always two sides to a story and it would be very interesting to hear the crofter's version. Perhaps they just don't want people on "their" land. Perhaps they have suffered at the hands of the less responsible campers who leave a trail of desecration behind them wherever they go. Mike
That wouldn't explain where they got their Anglophobic bigotry from.
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Pete » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:31 pm

Mark R wrote:That wouldn't explain where they got their Anglophobic bigotry from.
Nature or nurture?

;-)

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MikeB
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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by MikeB » Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:34 pm

This woman just doesnt want people on her croft, period. She actually say they aren't welcome in her email to SRPBA in 2007.

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Boots » Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:52 pm

If they used there noddle a bit they could turn this around and make some pennys out of the tourists then they could afford a skip etc. Open a small cafe or ice creams and be pleasant like the rest of the 99.9% of the people, its not rocket science. People would then probably be more helpful and respectful to there land etc. Are these people real locals to the area or are they off comers.

Happy camping (NE Iona) Boots

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Jim » Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:01 pm

I've never set foot on Iona so may be missing a point here, but.....

Were you camping in one of the fields associated with the croft and were there livestock in it?

Referring to the bits Mike has quoted from the the SLRA you will notice that if this was the case, then there is no right to camp there. Certainly some of the claims suggesting some groups have obstructed livestock would be associated with use outside outside of the wild camping provided for in the SLRA.

The nonsense however is that the crofters did not advise you of any of the other possibilities that have been listed in this thread, but chose instead to make a false claim that no camping was allowed anywhere on the island, even when you applied full charm.

Unfortunately there are 2 problem groups of wild campers, those who have no intention of honouring the access code or behaving reasonably or sensibly, and another who do not fully understand it's provisions and break it by mistake. Unfortunately it is difficult for landowners to tell the groups apart which is a shame, because shown a little understanding the latter group can be reasoned with and directed to a more suitable site 9 times out of 10.

I don't pretend that I always fully adhere to the access code, I can often be found wild camping in groups that would not be considered small, however we do always look for a site that should not cause anyone else a problem, and try to keep our presence discrete. Always prepared to move on if asked, unless there is a good weather reason not to, the latter being the main reason we would end up somewhere we would likely be asked to move on. This Easter was the ultimate, not only a large group camping in the middle of a village, but out of the cars because the weather was too bad to even set off (for more than a few days). I think our presence in the teashop every day helped, and the fact that the weather was so foul no-one from the village was out in it anyway. Once the snow was in you couldn't see the tents, or the boats. Also once the weather broke we packed up and left by kayak, taking care not to impede the fishing boats also making the most of the break in conditions. To be honest, had there been a commercial site nearby, we would have been on it.

One time my brother phoned me from the river bank having just had a debate with either a riparian owner or some ghillies about whether or not he could camp there. Apparently the main issue was that they had clients booked for that spot from early in the morning (well you would claim that every time wouldn't you...) so didn't want his group of school kids still there when they turned up. At this point I had to remind him that if he was on an organised trip from school that they are probably effectively an organised or commercial group and have no rights under the land reform act, and should really be negotiating and planning campsites in advance, especially with children in his care. Anyway, the situation was resolved without fuss or any threatening behaviour, since my brother agreed that they had plenty of time before dark to move to another location, and did. I guess the ultimate irony is that the kids at my brother's school are probably better heeled than the clients that were due the following day, and likely to be clients themselves in the future.... :-)

The SLRA is a wonderful thing but it is not carte blanche permission for everyone to do whatever the hell they like. It is well worth understanding what rights you do have and how you can exercise them, and also when you are likely to be just outside the remit of claiming those rights. Of course a good dose of common sense in choosing suitable methods of access, campsites etc. goes a long way, and it seems to me that if you demonstrate a responsible approach people are generally willing to overlook the fact that your numbers are a bit large, or that you have chosen to make your first camp by the car because you arrived too late in the day to paddle to a campsite.

Sorry I've gone on quite a bit there and it probably looks like I'm lecturing PeterG - that's not what I intended, my default assumption is that you were camped discretely away from croft fields and livestock but encountered someone so embittered by those who don't that you bore the brunt of it - no instead I am trying to remind everyone that the SLRA does have limits because so often we assume everyone here knows them, and there may well be complete novices also reading the thread who didn't know this.

Jim

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Cornholio » Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:10 pm

Her attitude and reputation for hostility may well be a reason why the owners of the croft (NTS) are reluctant to sell it to her?! From reading the link contents it seems like her problem stems primarily from the "land based invaders" who come over by ferry and want to explore the island(shock horror is this a new phenomenon? Doubt it). I wonder how long they've been tenants and if they knew just how popular Iona is for tourism before taking on the tenency? Or have they been there for decades?
To have a go at sea kayakers who don't ruin her fences presumably and arrive by sea leaving no trail of death and destruction through her croft to get to the beach/machair and set up camp for a night is out of order, but her comments about burying excrement in the dunes have made me think that she probably has a point there. From looking at multimap their house is no more than a 1/4 mile from the beaches, on flat unscreened land so no wonder they're a bit miffed at folk constantly camping there. At the lime quarry (Sailean) on Lismore last weekend I had concerns as it looked like a working farm/croft nearby but everyone was out of sight and we, as should be expected, left it the way it was when we arrived. Some of the group who have been there before have had recent run-ins at Coeffin Castle up the coast with the "land owner" there when camping.
I suppose if we only had fires below HW mark and took out ALL waste(yep, even the crap) she really could have no complaints whatsoever. Somehow I doubt there would be any driftwood left on Ionas beaches anyway, it would be picked clean!
"God tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure you're f****d..."

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ian_Montrose » Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:38 pm

Jim's fine post brings up the interesting issue of organised groups in relation to the code. Off the top of my head I was aware that the rights of access do not extend to commercial groups but I can't say I'm sure exactly where non-commercial organised groups sit. Without looking it up, how many others know? I'm thinking specifically about clubs in this instance. With regard to the specific problems this crofter is having, many of those walking over her land are probably arriving as part of a coach party. Would they not count as an organised commercial group?

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Re: A warm welcome on Iona

Post by Ian_Montrose » Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:49 pm

From http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A309336.pdf


2.9 Access rights extend to activities carried out commercially or
for profit, provided that these activities could also be carried on
other than commercially or for profit (ie by the general public
for recreational purposes or for educational activities or for
crossing land). For example, a mountain guide who is taking a
customer out hill-walking is carrying on a commercial activity
but this falls within access rights because the activity involved
– hill-walking – could be done by anyone else exercising access
rights. The same would apply to a canoe instructor from a
commercial outdoor pursuits centre with a party of canoeists.
Other examples would be a commercial writer or photographer
writing about or taking photographs of the natural or cultural
heritage.

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