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Stay clear of storm-damaged forests in Highlands, people warned

By John Davidson

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Storm damage at Fort Augustus.
Storm damage at Fort Augustus.

Walkers are being warned to avoid some forestry sites in the Highlands after paths and bridges are thought to have been damaged in recent storms.

Visitors are also said to be at risk because of trees which have become uprooted and left unstable.

Paul Hibberd, regional visitor services manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, said people should steer clear of a number of sites until they are made safe.

It is anticipated that in some locations clearing the storm damage could take months.

Car parks and trails at several destinations have been closed, including at Feshiebridge and Uath Lochans in Strathspey and River Oich and Torr Dhuin, near Fort Augustus.

It is understood the site at Littlemill near Inverarnie is also affected.

Mr Hibberd said: “The recent winter storms have hit some of our forests in the north very hard. Woodlands in Strathspey and around Fort Augustus have lost thousands of trees.

“We have already started the clear-up operation but there is a large amount of work to do. As well as the fallen trees themselves, it is likely that some paths and bridges have been damaged by the storm.

Fallen trees blocking the path at Littlemill.
Fallen trees blocking the path at Littlemill.

“There is also the risk posed by hanging trees – those that have been blown over but have been caught on standing trees. These can be highly unstable and can fall with little or no warning.

“We are asking members of the public to help us by staying away from the affected woodlands for the moment.

“We don’t want anyone risking their personal safety by venturing into our forests until we can make them safe.”

He added that a helicopter survey was being carried out in order to assess the extent of the damage.

Visitors are asked to check the FLS website for up-to-date information on restrictions before travelling to any of its forests, as well as obeying any signage and staying away from any work taking place.

If a path or trail is blocked, people are asked to turn back and not to walk around, climb over or duck under fallen trees.

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