Ramblers won't let boathouse row lie

BUTE'S ramblers have turned their ire back on to Bute Estate and the Mount Stuart Trust in their ongoing battle over the right of access to the Ascog Point foreshore.

The Isle of Bute Ramblers' campaign to gain access to the foreshore via the private garden at Ascog Boathouse provoked an angry response from the frustrated householder there, who told us he believed walkers were being encouraged to march blithely through the garden, despite the absence of a registered right of way.

But the Ramblers' treasurer Ivor Gibbs has refused to let the matter lie, and has complained that the Bute Estate should have erected a fence to stop the garden encroaching over the path when redeveloping what was a derelict building to turn it into a dwelling house.

Said Mr Gibbs: "Our sympathy goes out to the householder concerned, but the "constant stream of people using the path" that he mentions must have alerted him to the fact that there was a problem with his lease.

"Our disagreement is not with him, but with the Bute Estate.

"I note that Billy Shields said that people do not now have the right to effectively walk through the garden of that house - an admission that they had the right before the Bute Estate encroached upon the path.

"This, of course, would not suit the Bute Estate, who appear to have an objection to anyone having a right of way anywhere on Bute - when Rothesay had its own town council, the late Provost W.R. Lyle was always complaining about the way in which the Estate was 'gobbling up rights of way'."

Mr Gibbs, a trained walk leader with Bute Healthy Living Initiative, said he regarded the alternative routes to the Ascog Point foreshore as unsafe.

In response Billy Shields, Mount Stuart's countryside ranger for the island, reminded us that the Mount Stuart Trust had advertised some years ago for planning permission to turn the boathouse into a dwelling house and garden, and no-one had made representations at the time regarding the proposed change of use.

Billy also drew our attention to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which states that the public's 'right to roam' does not extend to houses and gardens.

The tenant at Ascog Boathouse, meanwhile, told us he was still contemplating taking legal action against anyone who "pushed him too far" over the issue.