help support the project

You can help support the project by buying the book on Amazon

Lowdown on the upland of MarBooks sales directly support the project - read more about the book or download a sample

Powered by Squarespace

The Unna Principles

The following is a verbatim copy of a letter written in 1937 by Percy Unna to the National Trust for Scotland.  He wrote the letter following the purchase of the Dalness Forest, including Glencoe and Glen Etive, by the Scottish Mountaineering Club with the intention that it would be turned over to the National Trust for Scotland on the understanding that they would keep the land in its "primitive condition for all time".

In the preamble Percy Unna explains why he believed that it was necessary that "the views" of the subscribers should be "expressed in writing", before going on to enumerate what has become known as the 'Unna Principles'.

                                         COPY LETTER from P.J.H. Unna, Esq.,
President, the Scottish Mountaineering
Club, to the Chairman and Council of
the National Trust for Scotland -
dated 23rd November, 1937.

To the Chairman and Council of the
National Trust for Scotland.

Dear Sirs,
As the movement initiated by a group of the members of the Scottish Mountain-
eering Club to acquire Dalness Forest and hand it over to the National Trust
for Scotland, to be held for the use of the nation, so that the public may have
unrestricted access at all times, has now materialised; as subscriptions to
that end were invited not only from the members of the Scottish Mountaineering
Club but also from the members of all the other Mountaineering Clubs in Great
Britain; and as the funds so subscribed enabled the forest to be handed over
free of cost to the Trust, together with a surplus to be used as an Endowment
Fund; it is considered desirable that what are believed to be the views of the
subscribers as to the future of the estate should be expressed in writing and
recorded in the Minutes of the Trust. This is all the more necessary, as in the
attached circular which was issued for the purpose of inviting those subscriptions
it was stated that the land "would be held on behalf of the public and preserved
for their use", and "that the Trust" would "be asked to undertake that the land
be maintained in its primitive condition for all time with unrestricted access to
the public". The views in question are:-
1. That "primitive" means not less primitive that the existing state.
2. That Sheep Farming and Cattle-Grazing may continue, but that Deer
Stalking must cease, and no sport of any kind be carried on, or
Sporting Rights sold or let; any use of the property for sport
being wholly incompatible with the intention that the public
should have unrestricted access and use. It is understood,
however, that Deer may have to be shot, as that may be necessary
to keep down numbers and so prevent damage, but for that purpose
3. That the word "unrestricted" does not exclude regulations, but
implies that regulations, if any, should be limited to such as
may in future be found absolutely necessary, and be in sympathy
with the views expressed herein.
4. That the hills should not be made easier or safer to climb.
5. That no facilities should be introduced for mechanical transport;
that paths should not be extended or improved; and that new
paths should not be made.
6. That no directional or other signs, whether signposts, paint
marks, cairns, or of any other kind whatever, should be
allowed; with the exception of such signs as may be necessary
to indicate that the land is the property of the Trust, and to
give effect to the requirement in the Provisional Order of
1935 that By-Laws must be exhibited.
7. That should a demand spring up for Hotels or Hostels it is
possible that it may have to be satisfied to a limited
extent. If so, they should only be built alongside the public
roads, and should be subject to control by the Trust; and it is
suggested that no Hotels or Hostels should be built in Glencoe
itself, or on any other part of the property, except, perhaps, in
the lower reaches of the Trust property in Glen Etive. It is hoped
that the Trust may be able to come to an understanding with the
neighbouring proprietors as to corresponding restrictions being
maintained in regard to land near to that held by the Trust.
8. That no other facilities should be afforded for obtaining Lodging,
Shelter, Food or Drink; and, especially, that no Shelters of any
kind be built on the hills.
9. It is hoped that the design of any buildings which may be necessary
will be carefully considered by the Trust; and that where possible,
trees will be planted in their vicinity.
10. In conclusion, it is suggested that the whole question of the
management of the Trust properties in Glen Etive and Glencoe
should receive special attention, in view of the possibility
that the policy adopted by the National Trust for Scotland in
the present instance may create a precedent for similar areas in
other mountainous districts, not only in Scotland, but also in
England and Wales.

Yours faithfully,

(Sgd.) P. J. H. UNNA
Scottish Mountaineering Club.