The Angry Corrie 22: Mar-Apr 1995
And they call it democracy...
TAC19 made brief mention of Kjeld Kirk Christiansen's failed attempt to buy the Glenfeshie estate (which eventually fell to the enigmatic Will Woodlands Trust). Now comes news that the Laird of Legøland - via his family's holding company, Kirkbi A/S - has paid "well over £1m" for the Strathconon Estate. Hopefully this will prove positive, although it's too early to tell as yet, with Legø only having thus far issued a standard conservation-meets-killing press release, waffling about the "social and economic wellbeing of the local community". Whether or not the lower slopes of various Ross and Cromarty hills will soon acquire newbuild bothies made of shiny blue and red bricks also remains to be seen.
Altogether more worrying is a tale of our old friends at Atholl Estates, where an application has been made for a Forestry Commission Woodland Grant of £400,000 to plant mixed woodland in Glen Bruar. Now, whilst none of us would seriously argue against the non-blanket replanting of Highland glens, this application - backed by Tayside Region - does seem a little... er... rich coming from the Duke of Atholl. With an Estate valued at a conservative (!) £140m, his Dukeness is one of the few people in the country who doesn't need to tune in to the Turner / Kennedy jamboree every Saturday evening. Then again, the way these things are arranged means the Duke effectively wins the Lottery week in, week out - and not just at a tenner a time...
Slightly further north comes a strange tale of bothy appropriation. Details are shadowy - not to say murky - but The News of the Screws recently ran an exclusive sex 'n' drugs exposé from a highland bothy. This transpired to be Corndavon Lodge in the eastern Cairngorms, where, it was alleged, orgies, not ceilidhs, enlivened many a dark Glen Gairn night! Strange: doesn't sound like any bothy TAC has ever visited. Unsurprisingly, there is a hidden agenda here. It appears a consortium of Dutch (!) businessmen applied to lease part of Invercauld Estate for shooting of the standard, non-hypodermic, kind. But part of the deal was that Corndavon be closed down - and so the salacious story was leaked to the NotS. (Seemingly around this time, Deeside polis did in fact raid the bothy - to find one lonely hillwalker smoking one sad joint.) Anyway, all this bad PR gave Invercauld the excuse they needed to bar the door and rake in the guilders. It only remained to placate the walking club who maintained Corndavon (it was non-MBA) with an offer of another building elsewhere on the Estate. This, though, is a locked club hut, the Estate having decreed no non-members be allowed a key. So the end result is simply one less bothy for the general public.
Harry Ingram - who passed on that story - also tells a worrying tale from further west in the Cairngorms. He and a friend were climbing Sgor Mor - the Corbett separating Rivers Dee and Lui - when "there was a loud crack as a bullet passed just over our heads". After diving for cover - "never have I looked at a piece of ground so close for so long" - they scuttled downhill via a convenient burn. All this would be just about understandable - if still disturbing - during the main, autumnal, shooting season. But in February? And near the country's major path, the Lairig Ghru? Scottish Field types love to offer reassurance that stalkers only ever fire into "dead" ground (appropriate metaphor), but maybe this is merely the hill equivalent of an urban myth. The Sorley MacLean poem Air Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh comes to mind, with its line: "...thàinig sian a'pheileir..." - "...the bullet whizzed...". Practical poetry demonstrations must seem more than a little scary however.
Thanks to the ever vigilant Martin Prouse for supplying audit figures of various major outdoor suppliers. Last year, Karrimor had a turnover of £11.8 million, showing a profit of £357,000. Camping Gaz UK turned over £8 million with a remarkable £750,000 in profits, whilst Berghaus's £22 million turnover led to a loss of £235,000! Figures for TAC UK plc aren't yet available, but expect an increase of negative equity in a bull market.
An organisation called Land Reform - about whom we know little except that they sound like good people - are planning "a major occupation of land" on Sunday 23rd April. For more info, send SAE or your email address to Land Reform, Box E, 111 Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RQ. (email: email@example.com)
And finally, it wouldn't be right to let our Dutch Special pass without mention of Paul Van Vlissingen, whose donation of £150,000 went a long way towards enabling the John Muir Trust to buy Strathaird Estate in Skye - which includes Bla Bheinn, Clach Glas, Marsco, Sgurr na Stri and part of Loch Coruisk. The National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Alec Grant Bequest granted £400,000 and £100,000 respectively, whilst the £10,000 raised Summit Sweeping (see TAC18-20) went into the pot, as did all £50,000 of the SMT's Land Purchase Fund. Credit where credit's due, as they say.