Landowner criticized for dissuading people from visiting part of nature reserve

Highland Titles has been accused of going against “the great Scottish tradition of wandering rights”.

He owns 130 acres from Glen Nant to Argyll and Bute, with his website saying, “Known as the rainforest of Scotland, the ancient oak forest of Glen Nant is a special place, as evidenced by the SSSI. [Site of Special Scientific Interest] and SAC [Special Area of Conservation] status.”

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However, he added, “We will not be selling any plots of land from this location and we do not encourage you to visit as we want to keep the lands intact and the wildlife intact.”

A general view of the forest. Photo: Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

After being approached by Scotland on Sunday, he updated his website to read: “We will not sell any plots of land from this location and while you [are] free and welcome to visit, please keep in mind that the land has been designated as a site of special scientific interest and a special conservation area.

Jake Swindells, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said the initial message was “completely at odds with the inclusive vision of responsible access to the countryside carried by most people in rural communities”.

Helen Todd, Campaigns and Policy Manager at Ramblers Scotland, said: “Rather than discouraging visitation, Highland Titles should urgently review the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which requires reserve managers to provide paths and information quality to help people avoid damaging or disturbing nature.

Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess said: “The commodification of land as the exclusive pastime of those who can afford it, as Highland Titles seems determined to do, goes against the very essence of a green revival and the great Scottish tradition of wandering rights.

A screenshot of the Highland Titles website

Highland Titles had previously sparked controversy over its sale of “souvenir” plots of land to “become a lord, laird or lady”.

It offers a number of packages on its website, starting at £ 30 per square foot near Duror.

The website says “you cannot buy a noble title” and it is “for enjoyment purposes only”.

It also states that Highland Titles “remains the registered landowner”.

Highland Titles says its mission is to “fund the creation of several nature reserves across Scotland”.

Managing Director Douglas Wilson told Scotland on Sunday: “There aren’t many organizations that have done more than us to encourage people to visit and enjoy nature responsibly.

“Regarding Glen Nant, we bought this land last year and inherited the existing agreement with NatureScot, which will manage the land for the foreseeable future.

“As much as we would like to encourage people to visit the land, NatureScot is concerned about the effects that a dramatic increase in visitation can have.

“People are absolutely free to visit the land if they wish, but we have agreed, at NatureScot’s request, not to actively encourage thousands of visitors to the area as the land has been designated as SSSI and BAG. “

A spokesperson for NatureScot said: “People are welcome to visit Glen Nant NNR [national nature reserve], much of which is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland which maintains the car park, trails and promotes responsible access to the site.