Linlithgow beauty spot row

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Guide book ‘Scotland The Best’ singled out Beecraigs and Cockleroy Hill as one of the best walks in Scotland – but an outcry has followed.

For a number of readers have been in touch after we publicised the fact – amidst claims that the beauty spot has been devastated by over-zealous tree felling.

Winchburgh’s Andrew Moncrieff said he was so horrified by the extent of it, he has vowed not to return.

Mr Moncrieff said “I am annoyed at the complete devastation that has occurred in the Cockleroy car park and the lovely tree-lined path which has been decimated.

“There was no need to fell these trees. I see this as a deliberate act for financial gain with no thought for wildlife and the enjoyment of walkers.It is like a bomb site.”

Linlithgow’s Jill Pattle intends now to write to the guidebook’s author Peter Irvine to advise him that the set-up he described has,in part, been wiped out.

She added: “A few weeks ago, I began to watch with dismay and disbelief the wanton destruction of the mixed woodland at Cockleroy. Loss of habitat and deforestation is something we hear about in the Far East and South America but here it is not so much related to global warming and big business. The impact here is on our wildlife.The area now resembles a battlefield in the Great War.”

A WLC spokesman said: “We balance the needs of retaining woodland areas to provide shelter for visitors and wildlife alike and, at the same time, ensuring that the woodland is regenerated for visitors to enjoy in the future. A long-term forest plan was approved in 2013 by both the council and the Forestry Commission Scotland. This includes the plans for the gradual regeneration of the forest, such as tree felling, thinning and replanting as required. Any income generated by tree felling is put back into replanting, path upgrading and drainage improvements at Beecraigs.”

“The majority of the area of Sitka spruce which has been felled at Cockleroy is owned by the neighbouring farmer. A smaller number of trees have been felled on an adjacent area of council-owned land after both were affected by wind. The area of Scots pine on the top of the hill has largely been retained, and it is our intention to replant the felled area on council land with Silver birch, Oak and Scots pine.”

“Many local residents are well aware that Beecraigs is a managed woodland, and we take steps to ensure they are kept informed of any work that is ongoing. Prior to each phase of felling and replanting / thinning work, temporary noticeboards explaining the woodland operations were put up at appropriate locations around the country park and information placed on the council website and social media channels.

“The timber produced from Beecraigs is Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and the woodland management is independently audited under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS). This includes ensuring that woodland management takes due cognisance of biodiversity, for example special care taken to protect badgers setts during the most recent work. Our management has been audited as part of a group scheme by forest ecologists who have praised the varied habitats and forest management which continues to enhance these.

“The path to Cockleroy has now re-opened and we are working to get the car park re-opened in time for the traditional Easter activities next week. All the areas which were felled in previous years have been replanted, with a number of tree planting events giving young people and the wider public the opportunity to contribute to Beecraigs’ new sustainable woodland for future generations.”