Highlands & Islands

Anger amid rise in 'dirty camping' in rural Scotland

Rubbish and fire damage at an abandoned campsite near Bonaly Reservoir in the Pentlands Image copyright Pentlands Regional Park
Image caption Rubbish and fire damage at an abandoned campsite near Bonaly Reservoir in the Pentland Hills

Abandoned campsites strewn with litter and even human waste have increasingly been found this year in Scotland's rural areas, say outdoors groups.

Locations include beauty spots in the Highlands and hillsides and woodland in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh.

Hillwalkers and climbers group Mountaineering Scotland has dubbed the behaviour "dirty camping".

It said the sites were usually close to a road and unlike wild camping, which involves leaving little or no trace.

Ness Fishery Board, which is responsible for salmon and trout fisheries in and around the Highlands' River Ness, has also condemned dirty camping after discovering a site at the weekend.

The remains of the camp were found at the River Foyers, a tributary of Loch Ness and located within the Ness catchment.

Image copyright Ness Fishery Board
Image caption Ness Fishery Board said the mess it found represented an abuse of access rights

Mountaineering Scotland's access and conservation officer Davie Black said roadside camping was lawful if done responsibly.

But he said this summer had seen a growth in anti-social camping.

He said: "It is easy to associate all informal camping with rubbish and pollution, but the truth is different.

"Walkers and climbers going into the hills and wild camping tend to leave little trace of where they have been. Roadside campers who leave no trace are also 'invisible'.

"But the trail of dirty roadside camping is only too visible and is what gives all campers a bad reputation."

Image copyright Ness District Fishery
Image caption Some of the rubbish found by Ness Fishery Board at the weekend

Mountaineering Scotland has called for greater enforcement of legislation to tackle the problem.

Ness Fishery Board said the rubbish-filled site it found represented an abuse of access rights enjoyed in Scotland.

A spokesman said: "Absolutely disgusting. You know who you are and should be ashamed of yourselves."

Image copyright Pentlands Regional Park
Image caption An abandoned tent and rubbish on Harbour Hill in the Pentlands

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