A man, who broke his ankle on an organised bat watch at a stately home, is reported to be seeking compensation.
John Cowan was attending the event at Hopetoun House with his 5 year old grandson when the accident happened in September 2008. They were participating in an organised event to look for bats along with 20 other visitors.
The walk started at 8pm, as the night was beginning to go dark. It was after the event – an hour later – that the incident occurred.
Mr Cowan and his grandson were walking back to the car park when the sight of a car’s headlights made him believe he was walking in the wrong direction. He walked across what he believed was a flat lawn, using a torch. However, he soon fell off an unseen ha-ha wall and landed awkwardly.
A ha-ha wall is a feature used on some estates. It is a trench, concealed from view on one side to preserve the views from the house. They are used primarily to keep sheep off lawns. The top of the wall of the ha-ha is built level with the lawn, with a sharp drop immediately following.
Mr Cowan broke his ankle in the fall, and the Scotsman reports that he is now seeking compensation from Hopetoun House Preservation Trust. He argues that the ha-ha wall was not illuminated or signposted. The Trust denies they are responsible, stating that the bat-watchers were given a safety talk at the start of the event.
A judge will make a decision in the case at a later date. If Mr Cowan is successful in his case, he will reportedly receive £35,000 compensation.