Plea to stamp out ‘dirty camping’ blight on Scotland’s beauty spots

People visiting Scotland’s beauty spots are being urged to be responsible and not damage, deface and defile their favourite wild places.

The message is part of a new campaign by the country’s biggest conservation charity after disturbing scenes of vandalism, toilet waste and littering were witnessed in some of the most renowned rural locations.

Fences and trees have been uprooted and used for firewood and land left charred by portable barbecues, while mountains of rubbish such as drinks bottles have been piling up.

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Worse still, there has been an unprecedented rise in careless dumping of both human and animal waste.

Livestock and wildlife have been attacked and ‘worried’ by pet dogs running loose.

Bad parking has also been having a serious impact on sensitive habitats and local people.

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Warnings over 'dirty' camping as influx of visitors trash Scottish beauty spots

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is urging visitors to “love this place, leave no trace” as it seeks to encourage them and campers to minimise their impact on the landscape.

Glencoe is one of Scotland's most spectacular and popular wild landscapes but irresponsible visitors have been taking their toll on the local environment

Staff at the trust have reported a rise in anti-social behaviour which it says is endangering the environment, harming local communities and having a “devastating” effect on long-term conservation projects.

A series of graphic images has been released as part of the campaign, showing some of the destruction left behind by visitors.

Popular destinations that have been seriously affected over the past year include Glencoe National Nature Reserve and Glenfinnan Monument in the Highlands.

Emily Bryce, operations manager at the NTS reserve, said: “While the vast majority of visitors here in Glencoe and Glen Etive respect the landscape, unfortunately our ranger team spend a considerable proportion of their time dealing with those who don’t.

Countryside rangers have reported a massive increase in littering since the start of the Covid pandemic, including careless dumping of human and animal waste

“Clearing up litter and human waste; repairing damage to paths, verges and fences; addressing the impact of deer entering new woodland enclosures due to gates being left open; and discouraging inconsiderate parking when car parks are at capacity.

“These activities are all essential, but they also take our valuable time away from ongoing nature conservation projects and wildlife monitoring.”

She highlighted the importance of raising awareness of the need to treat the landscape and rural communities with respect.

She said: “Chatting with outdoor enthusiasts and championing responsible countryside access has always been a rewarding element of a ranger’s role, and we find it makes a real difference when it comes to reducing anti-social behaviour at busy countryside places.

People are being urged to respect local communities and nature, act responsibly and 'leave no trace' of their visits to Scotland's scenic locations

“Our team have been out and about more than ever recently – on a busy Saturday walkabout we might engage with over 400 walkers and wild campers.

“We’ve been working in partnership with our local community, neighbouring landowners and authorities to clearly signpost local facilities and develop long-term plans to sustainably accommodate visitors to the glens, with sensitively designed infrastructure improvements.

“We need your help to continue with this work and empower people with the motivation and skills to leave no trace.”

NTS is urging people to get out and visit the locations and properties it cares for responsibly.

A list of 10 top tips has been drawn up to help, including advice to take litter home, use a stove instead of lighting fires and carry a trowel for digging an impromptu toilet.

Trees at Linn of Tummel were cut down trees to burn on campfires

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Many of Scotland's best-loved landscapes have seen unprecedented levels of vandalism, littering and 'dirty camping'

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