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Mountain body seeks clarification over parking charges

Posted 13 March 2012
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Mountain body seeks clarification over parking charges
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For those who love to get their walking boots on and up their Munro count, the north-west of Scotland is a wonderful place to go. Famous mountain ranges include the Five Sisters of Kintail - of which three are Munros - and in addition to the seven peaks over 3,000 ft in the north side, there are many more across Glen Shiel, with the classic south ridge walk offering the prospect of seven in a long summer's day.

But while Glen Shiel has the A82 running through it, other peaks need to be accessed by parking up and taking a long walk-in. One example of this is Glen Affric.

All of a sudden, parking meters have appeared in the car park at the eastern end of Glen Affric by landowners the Forestry Commission. And this has happened without the foreknowledge of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS), which has expressed concern on behalf of those who would park up there and head for the hills.

It is not just the lack of consultation - which the Commission are supposed to undertake - before imposing charges that bothers the MCoS. It noted: "There is only one car park for those who approach from the eastern end of the glen and many people leave their vehicles there for several days at a time to access the glen, mountains and the youth hostel."

Indeed, for some, the Glen Affric Youth Hostel is the ideal base for exploring the nearby Munros, being eight miles from the nearest road.

The MCoS is concerned that those undertaking such trips may be forced to leave a parking ticket stating their return date - with obvious security implications.

It is posing a series of questions for the Forestry Commission, asking how much consultation went on, whether the parking charges will be mandatory, where anyone can find out what the proceeds raised will be spent on.

Mountain lovers will hope all this can be resolved, for in the dramatic and beautiful glen there is great scenery and an enticing array of mountains. Peaks like Mam Sodhail, Carn Eighe, Sgurr na Lapaich, An Socach, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and Mullach na Dheiragain are just some of the Glen Affric Munros that can be enjoyed and then ticked off the list.