A West Highland community is to march in protest next week because it claims landowners are obstructing access to the public cemetery, also a Commonwealth War Grave, which unusually is only approached by a private road.

Residents have already staged three such demonstrations to highlight what they see as a lack of respect to local feelings, and claim it is the first time in a century there has been a problem.

Now council officials are trying to restore relations between the community of Strontian at the head of Loch Sunart, and Melvyn and Sally Shaw, who own Drimnatorran Farm. The focus of local concerns is the large gate the Shaws put across the access road in March.They bought the 47 acre farm three and a half years ago after working in the social work sector south of the border, and deny they are doing anything wrong.

But Tony Dobson, a retired builder who moved to the area from near Liverpool 35 years ago, said: “Their restrictions have ranged from verbal abuse, large boulders placed to restrict vehicles, a very large gate, signs on the gate implying that this is an access to the farm only with no reference to the burial ground and recently a camera facing the gate.”

He said during a recent meeting last week with the Highland Council solicitor, it was made clear that the community had no rights at all except that of access formed by use over many years.

Highland historian Iain Thornber said: "The present landowner is doing his best to discourage visitors by erecting a new, multi-signed gate across the road which at best is inconvenient and worse, downright intimidating. This is a public and not a private graveyard and as long as the Highland Council continues to accept responsibility for site maintenance and opening and selling plots, it has a clear obligation to ensure the public enjoys good access."

A council spokeswoman said the council had "servitude rights of access" to the cemetery, and the general public had a right of way to the burial ground.

Mr and Mrs Shaw could not be contacted but in a recent letter to the local access panel they wrote: “The parking facility and turning circle exists as a courtesy as we are only obliged to prove pedestrian access across our property from the main bridge. Nobody has been prevented from driving along our road to the burial ground.”