A COUPLE have blocked car access to one of Scotland’s most historic lighthouses claiming “fat, lazy b******s” keep parking outside their home.
Tracey and Roger McLachlan run a B&B business at the former keeper’s cottage next to the Rubha Reidh lighthouse in Wester Ross.
The lighthouse, built in 1912 by a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson, attracts hundreds of visitors annually despite its remote location 80 miles north-west of Inverness.
But in March this year the McLachlans got so fed up with visitors parking cars close to the lighthouse they built gates – one across the road 200 metres away and another close to the lighthouse itself. “Private” signs were also put up on the gates and on local paths.
That prompted a backlash from locals who started a petition to have the gate removed which has so far received 2,000 signatures.
Signs warn visitors: “Private – Residents Only. Sorry, the lighthouse is not open and we do not have a cafe or visitor centre.”
The couple insist they own both the access road and the land it crosses. Locals claim the road is a right of way to the lighthouse, which is owned by the Northern Lighthouse Board.
The McLachlans add that a recent helicopter rescue involved the aircraft using a section of road to land.
In a Facebook post to critics Tracey McLachlan wrote: “The area you are all getting so exercised about is used as the emergency helipad. However, had cars been parked there I am sure that the injured lady and her family would have been fine about it.
“After all, it’s much more important that lazy b******s who can’t be bothered to get off their fat arses and walk a few metres have somewhere to park.”
In a letter to the community council, who also strongly oppose the closure, Mrs McLachlan said: “There is absolutely no need for walkers to leave the road on the lighthouse side and approach the lighthouse buildings, or to walk on the couple of acres of land that surrounds the lighthouse.
“We will be taking steps to ensure that our signage makes it very clear that it is private property and that there are no visitor facilities.”
Gairloch Community Council secretary, Fran Cree, claimed the couple had blocked off around two acress of neighbouring land which they did not own, describing the move as “astonishing”.
“The owners of the Keepers House at the Lighthouse have effectively attempted to shut off land surrounding the lighthouse buildings, land which they mostly do not own.”
Sophia Shafi, 51, local crofter and advisor to the community council, said: “Putting up ‘private’ signs misinform and impinges on people’s right to roam and walk on the land, it deters tourists from visiting the lighthouse, which the McLachlans do not own.
“It’s about what the ground has been used for historically and it has been used by crofters and walkers and visitors to the lighthouse since the road was built.”
Mark Williams, factor for Inverasdale Estate who owns the land surrounding the lighthouse, has said the couple “have no right” blocking off the road which is also used by local crofters.
Mr Williams said: “It is a private road which is maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board so they have no right to put up the gates or block the road.”
The Northern Lighthouse Board, who are responsible for maintaining the private road, said that as long as they had unrestricted access to the road then they have “no authority or powers to intervene”.
“NLB has taken legal advice and confirmed that as long as our work is not being impeded we have no authority or powers to intervene in this situation,” said a spokesman.
It seems Mrs McLachlan is also outspoken when it comes to dealing with critics of her business on TripAdvisor.
On March 30 this year a guest wrote: “We were…lectured on how awful it was to be SO LATE & then met the enraged BEETROOT RED faced wife/partner, who was so very very angry about our lateness, that she actually asked us to leave & not bother checking in!”
Mrs McLachlan replied: “You arrived at 8.15pm – by my calculation that made you 1 ¼ hours late. ‘Couldn’t phone because it was a surprise’ – what a lame excuse.
“Your girlfriend then had the most major tantrum I have ever seen – crocodile tears, stamping her foot, the full screaming habdabs.”
Despite numerous attempts to contact the Mclachlans, they were not available for comment.