The Cape Wrath Range is second to none, anywhere, to see live bombing, Durness folk learned last month, and it may be turned to commercial advantage if an idea floated by a local landowner is taken up, writes DAVID JARDINE.
, Lieutenant Commander Rufus Redman, who attended a liaison meeting
in the village on February 20, said: Following an idea
from Mr James Clark of Eribol Estate at the last meeting, I have
looked at the suggestion of military tourism for
the Durness commercial community to consider.
Although the military cannot actively invite aviation enthusiasts to visit the Cape Wrath range, Commander Redman said they will not be obstructive towards any local initiative to encourage it. A dedicated sheltered area near Durness to view aircraft using the Cape Wrath bombardment range, perhaps on An Fharaid at Pol a Gheodha Bhain, could be developed by local businesses, he said.
None of the tours he had seen advertised can offer the chance of witnessing live bombing runs. This experience for a military aviation enthusiast would, I imagine, be second to none, said Commander Redman.
Iris Mackay, an MoD trusted agent, runs bus trips for bird watchers, walkers and sightseers to Cape Wrath in the summer. She said: I cant see military tourism being a big issue here. The only ones who like to come during exercises are ex-military personnel whove seen the place from the sea or air and want to see it from the land. Military tourism could be a good idea if some organisation could market it. I wouldnt be against it, she said.
I think its one avenue possible, said Fiona Mackay of the villages Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse. Wed have to talk to the military. In the present economic climate we cant turn down anything.
a humble, impoverished sheep farmer and former helicopter
pilot, has lived at Eribol for seventeen years. He said: Up
here you can see the latest technology delivering the latest
weapons, totally in sight and its totally free. Theres
nowhere else you can see a Tomcat dropping a 2,000 pound live
bomb. There are some antis in Durness who would be opposed
in principle incomers, in a very small minority.
A dissenting voice is that of the SNPs Rob Gibson, who also attended the meeting. He said: I think its the last thing the local community needs. What it does need is the peace and quiet that tourists come to enjoy.
The military attitude is one of unbelievable contempt.
There are about 120 days a year of bombing during three periods New Year to early April, mid-May to early July and the beginning of September to mid-November. Faraid Head offers a clear view across three miles of open sea of the target, An Garbh-eilean.