A Moray couple claim they are being “held hostage” by forestry companies as the dirt track that leads to their home crumbles away due to constant HGV use.
During wet weather Andy and Susan Chadderton, who live at Tapp Farm near Dallas, become stranded on a virtual island as the route becomes impassable.
The family, who stay at the house with their 19-year-old son Ruairidh Smiley, now fear emergency vehicles could struggle to get to them if needed.
Gallons of water can pour down the slopes “like a waterfall” when it rains leaving the track swamped in up to six inches of mud.
The family have lived in the rural cottage since 2004 but say felling in recent months has made the situation almost intolerable as up to 17 trucks pass their home every day.
Forestry agents that work in the woods insist repairs to the track, sections of which belong to different land owners, are done when needed and timber loads are carefully managed.
Land owners in the wood also committed to drawing up a maintenance agreement for the track in November 2015.
But that remains to be written, nearly two years later.
Mrs Chadderton, 49, revealed that during bad weather she has resorted to checking the dirt road at 5am to ensure the family can leave their home.
She said: “It kind of feels like you’re being held hostage by no agreement being in place for the road.
“I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve had to replace shock absorbers and wish bones on the car that have been damaged due to the amount of pot holes.”
The couple live about a mile and a half from the road that runs from Dallas to Knockando.
During the winter the family will resort to leaving their cars at the end of the track to ensure they are able to get out.
Cracks regularly appear in the track with recent wet weather causing the surface to collapse into a ditch.
Outdoor activity instructor Mr Chadderton, 51, now intends to object to future felling licences in the wood in protest.
He said: “Selfishly, we’re thinking about safety for ourselves but it has knock-on benefits for everyone who works here.
“You don’t want to wish it, but if the track gives way and there’s a reportable injury to the Health and Safety Executive this will all be sorted out in seven days probably.”
Mr Chadderton added: “We realise there are downsides from living in such a rural location but we shouldn’t have to worry about access to and from our own home.”
The couple explained they were willing to contribute financially to the maintenance of the access road with the other land owners.
Steve Connolly, manager at Cawdor Forestry who fell in the wood, said haulage operations were “carefully planned” to minimise damage to the road.
He said: “Maintenance of the road is ongoing with work done soon after any timber harvesting and haulage operations and the costs shared between the owners as appropriate.
“The maintenance agreement will be a formal statement of what already happens in practice. We are committed to helping put an agreement in place but we need all the forest owners affected to be involved and at the moment two of the blocks of woodland are changing ownership.”
When approached for comment Stephen MacDonald, manager at Fountain Forestry, said that he agreed with Mr Connolly.
Agents Ribreck and Brook Forestry, who also operate in the wood, were approached to comment but did not respond.