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Coruisk

The following articles triggered off a series of letters on behalf of the Club.  The story is reproduced for your information.

Letter from the Guardian: -

Sir, I thank you from your leading article (May 10) discouraging Inverness County Council from “opening up” Lock Coruisk next month by bridging the Scavaig and Camasunary Rivers, blasting the Bad Step and building a Land-Rover track to Camasunary. This first test given to unwitting army engineers has untied all outdoor organisations in the United Kingdom, whether climbers, hill walkers, or ramblers in hostility to a legitimised vandalism.

Most ironically the plan was first mooted by the police in a well-intentioned notion of aiding mountain rescue.  The effect would be the reverse of what they desire.  The un-bridged burns, rough track, and rocky ground, have hitherto acted as a filter ensuring that unfit walkers think twice of going into hills that for them are dangerous.  Remove the natural obstacles and the accident rate will leap up.  Accidents are meantime rarer on this side of the Cullin and injured men are evacuated by motor-boat to Elgol.

Lock Coruisk, ringed by the Cullin Horseback of 20 sharp peaks, is in of the outstanding landscapes of Britain.  Its peculiar quality is a wild loneliness, refreshing to the mind of all who come even if only to look – even by steamer from Mallaig.  Such rare places are fast becoming too few in this small island. We need every one we can save, both for our own delight and health and for future generations.  If any man can help influence Inverness to prevent an unnecessary disfigurement of Coruisk and its ancient footpath let him do so all at once.

I am etc.  W.H. Murray, Loch Goil, Argyll

The next day appeared: -

PLAN FOR SKYE JEEP PATH TO STAY.

Inverness County council is to adhere to its proposal for making rescues in the Cullins in Skye easier by improving the footpaths into the hills. It also said that the work had to start in a fortnight or the Army would all go on holiday.

A telegram was immediately sent to Inverness county council asking them to reconsider and was followed by this letter: -

Dear Sir,

While it is well intentioned of you to clear a track vehicle route into Coruisk for the purpose of rescue, with our experience as a rescue organisation we beg you not to act in haste. Other ways can be found.

We would council against altering natural features in any way that would prevent new generations gaining our experiences.  For example we understand that the Bad Step is to be blasted.  This is a feature of renown in mountaineering and is to the mountaineer a place of great interest and importance and its loss would make us much poorer.

The men of the crowded areas have a deep need of rare places such Coruisk and its unnecessary disfigurement would cause spiritual hardship.

Please delay the approval for at least another year so that your proposals can be given mature consideration.  You have control of our heritage.  We are sure that as responsible people you will want to do right.

                        Yours etc.

Letters were also sent to an M.P., to a Bristol City Councillor and to Bill Murray offering help.  Inverness replied as follows: -

Dear Sir or Madam,

Mountain Rescue
Cuillins – Lock Coruisk

I refer to your recent letter making representations against proposals for certain improvements to the access from Camusunary and thereafter to the Mountaineering Hut at Lock Coruisk.

The many representations received against the proposals were duly considered by the Planning Committee of the Council.

That part of the scheme which envisaged the making of the steps across the face of the “Bad Step” has been discarded and been replaced by a proposed improvement of a path which goes round the “Bad Step”.

It appeared to the Planning Committee that the proposals particularly as amended, did not offer any threat either to the amenity of the area or to its quality or satisfactions as a mountain sanctuary.  As to whether the works will encourage people to go into the area who would not at present do so the Committee feel that is not so; the track which is to be improved for the use by police Land-Rover vehicles will not be available to private cars because (firstly) it will be unfit for private cars and (secondly) it will be made available by the estate owner only to his estate vehicles and police and rescue vehicles; as to people on foot it does not seem to the Committee that more people will walk along the altered track than do so on the present track.

The Council as police authority have inescapable responsibilities in the matter of mountain rescue (and of search until it is established that a feared mishap has not in fact occurred) and they therefore owe to the police and others who assist them the fullest practicable assistance.

Only a brief reply to your letter is practicable.  The views of the Committee have been set out in detail in a letter to the Countryside Commission for Scotland and copies of that letter have been sent to what appeared to be the nine principal organisations who had made representations. The matter is now being considered by the Countryside Commission.

Yours faithfully

An encouraging number of letters have appeared in the press, all anti.  The essence of the matter is neatly summed up by this letter: -

Sir,

My brother and I visited Elgol by motor-cycle in 1932, and, seeing the track marked on our ¼in. Ordnance map, had intended to ride to Coruisk.  But, of course, we had to walk it; and the memory of that day, and of the “Bad Step” in particular, has refreshed me at frequent intervals over the past 35 years.  Please leave this path ‘unimproved’.

Yours faithfully

(The Rev.) George Jager.
Sutton Courtney Vicarage.
Abingdon.

The crunch comes on 1st June ’68, the original date for the work to commence.  Let us hope that it doesn’t.

Kangy.