SCOTLAND’S best-loved hiking trail could be blocked by a sprawling new development, according to outdoors enthusiasts.
The 96 mile-long West Highland Way, from just north of Glasgow to Fort William, takes in some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes.
The trail draws 80,000 hiking fanatics from across the world every year – and has even attracted untold celebrity trekkers, including Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk who journeyed there last year.
But now hikers say the redevelopment of one of the iconic route’s hotels could threaten access to the trail.
The owners of the 17th century Kings House Hotel on Rannoch Moor in Glen Coe have put forward plans for a total overhaul of their buildings.
The hotel – believed to be one of the country’s oldest licensed inns – sits on the West Highland Way, and is one of the only available lodgings on the last leg of the path.
Now the owners plan to extend the hotel, build a new service building, upgrade the access road and bridge, create a car park and carry out landscaping works.
Black Corries Estate – the group who own the hotel – claim that this “substantial investment will secure its future”.
According to their plans the overhaul will “restore the place to an attractive, welcoming hotel” and make it a “year-round destination”.
But the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society have submitted an objection to their proposals.
The society’s inquiries officer, Eleisha Fahy, has pointed out that building work would be taking place on both sides of the trail.
She wrote: “As a result we are concerned to have not seen any detail about how public access is to be maintained and how site traffic will be managed during the construction phase.”
She also said that no detail had been offered on access to the site while work was being carried out.
According to her complaint the society is also concerned about the impact of the building work on the local cultural heritage of the trail.
Both the Kings House and the neighbouring Caulfield Bridge were important parts of the walk’s history when it was used as a military road network
Susanna Thomson – of Bidwells, the managing agent for Black Corries Estates – said: “The plan is very much about access.
“The West Highland Way comes right through the area around the hotel and that as been the central point to the plan for the hotel, as that’s where most of our guests come from and we want to make the best of it.”
She also said that the redevelopment would include public toilets for walkers on the West Highland Way.
And – she said – the cultural history of the area was being accounted for in the plans for redevelopment.