Residents living around some of the most perfect picture postcard beaches in the Highlands are lamenting an “absolutely horrendous” bank holiday weekend given the influx of visitors and the arrival of “dirty, dirty campers”.
Silver Sands of Morar and the stretch of beach that runs to Traigh near Arisaig, Lochaberm were overwhelmed with visitors with residents now calling for an emergency plan from Police Scotland and Highland Council to deal with irresponsible tourists.
Landscape artist Hope Blamire of Bath, a regular visitor to the west coast, said the conduct of some was an “absolute disgrace”.
She said there were “dirty, dirty campers defecating on the beach” with the experience of visiting Silver Sands ruined for others.
Ms Blamire, in a post on her Facebook page said: “They came to walk the silver sands of Morar and they look nothing like what they had known or imagined.
"There are tents everywhere and our neighbour bumped into a female on the beach at the weekend and totally unashamedly she said, ‘Oh I’m just off down the beach to have a poo’. It is an absolute disgrace.”
The claims from Morar come as a widespread campaign to encourage visitors to enjoy the countryside responsibly – and crucially clean up behind them – gathers momentum in Scotland.
Ms Blamire said there were 37 caravans and motorhomes parked on the “fragile machair” at the roadside of Traigh on Sunday.
She added: “The lack of respect and the ignorance shown by these visitors to not only the beautiful landscape here, but to the people who live here, is abhorrent.”
Meanwhile, a separate check on traffic at Silver Sands on Monday counted 89 different vehicles parked outwith designated spaces with the main B8008 effectively blocked.
The artist counted 32 burnt patches of grass left by fires and barbecues with claims some had ripped up fence posts on crofts to use as firewood.
Ms Blamire added: "I understand how badly people want to go on holiday, how badly they want to be somewhere beautiful like this. What I don’t understand is this kind of shocking behaviour.”
Stuart Griffin, chair of the Road to the Isles Facilities Group, a charity which runs public toilets at Traigh with other loos at Silver Sands to open soon, and member of Morar Community Council, said it had been an “absolutely horrendous” weekend.
Mr Griffin said: “The capacity is just not there to take that amount of people. There was no planning to deal with the expected number of people over the bank holiday.
"We have a meeting with police and Highland Council on Friday and we will be pushing for an emergency plan that can be activated ahead of a holiday weekend or say the Glasgow Fair. We need to be able to enact a plan that will allow police to commit to extra officers and for Highland Council to commit to extra parking enforcement.
"We accept that there will be a level of inconvenience but the level experienced at the weekend was out of proportion.
“Of course, the local economy relies on tourism and we want to welcome people, but there is only a finite amount of people that the area can accommodate.”