I recently watched a programme on BBC Iplayer about Loch Lomond & Trossachs National park. It told the story of Tyndrum‘s tussle with the park authorities to get the Cononish gold mine planning approved.
As the park is pretty much my playground, the programme was pretty much required viewing for me. But it was only after I was about 5 minutes into it that I realised I had met John Burton, the farmer who owns the land where the gold had been discovered.
It was last year, and Malcolm and I were climbing our second ever Munro – Ben Lui. We parked near the farm and set out on the long walk into the glen. About 10 minutes into the walk an old chap in a 4×4 with sheepdog, slowed down as it passed us, and the chap, Mr Burton, asked if we were going to climb Ben Lui and if so would we like a lift as far as the last gate. We thanked him but said we’d prefer to be under our own steam.
When we reached the sheep gate he was there looking across the hills as his dog worked. I think he mentioned something about it being harder to bring the sheep down when you can’t see them.
He asked where we had come from and what we thought about the idea of a goldmine in the glen. We didn’t want to disagree with this fairly agreeable fellow, but we weren’t entirely sure what we thought of it – nothing much we supposed, as long as the munros were still ours for the bagging.
On watching the programme, I was worried to see a plan for a man-made 800,00o tonne slurry mountain next to Ben Lui. It looked like what it was – a giant mound of crap. But it now seems that they’ve come to a compromise that is good for the people of Tyndrum, and minimises the impact the fine landscape. I hope the aspirations for both are well met.