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Petition signals Wrath over MOD Cape plan

Posted 17 January 2013
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Petition signals Wrath over MOD Cape plan
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Only last year, the Scottish National Trail was launched, giving those so inclined the chance to go walking all the way from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders region to the far most north-westerly point on the British Mainland - Cape Wrath.

However, just a few months on, this conclusion to the walk is under threat, due to plans by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to buy a square mile of land adjacent to the lighthouse that adorns the famous rugged headland.

Many fear this would remove access to the headland at a stroke and the John Muir Trust has been leading efforts to prevent the purchase taking place.

It is working with the community at nearby Durness, where villagers have put together an alternative community buy-out plan to purchase the land, which the Northern Lighthouse Board put up for sale last year.

An online petition against the MOD plan has also been launched, with over 800 people signing it. The local fear is that the purchase - in addition to the 75 square miles of land in the area already owned by the MOD - would mean public access is closed off to allow more live firing exercises to take place.

In turn, local tourism workers believe any lack of access to the Cape - something the MOD has denied will happen - could deter visitors. John Ure, who runs the Ozone Cafe and bunkhouse on the peninsula, said he believed the purchase of the land is "about closing down the whole peninsula".

Walkers taking their chance to visit the area may enjoy more than just the rugged shoreline of the Cape. The far north of Scotland provides a curious landscape in which even grass struggles to grow in some places, while mountains often rise up as free-standing masses surrounded by fairly flat ground.

Munroists will head fairly close to the Durness / Cape Wrath area when climbing the northernmost peak on the list, Ben Hope. They would have come further still had Foinaven, previously measured as 2,999 ft high, been shown to be a Munro itself.

Had this been the case, it would have made it the northernmost Munro - and boosted the local tourism sector. Instead, it was actually found to be 11ft too low.

Walkers heading for Cape Wrath will hope they are not similarly doomed to forever be left tantalisingly short.  ADNFCR-2803-ID-801523813-ADNFCR