Wild campers with 'festival attitude' at North Coast 500 Highland beauty spot blamed for littering and snapping branches off trees

Wild campers with a "festival attitude" have been blamed for snapping branches off trees for fires and leaving mess behind at a Highland beauty spot on the North Coast 500.

Residents in Applecross say they counted about 70 camping units - motorhomes, caravans or tents - in the bay area on Thursday and some are calling for legislation on camping in Scotland's beauty spots, many of which have been plagued by littering in recent weeks.

Tent pitches are currently unavailable at the Applecross campsite which is thought to be a key factor in more people camping along the shoreline and grassy verge in the bay area - and just one community-run public toilet facility is open in the village.

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Applecross Inn owner Judith Fish, who has been running the popular business for 31 years, says she is even prepared to close the Inn to help stop so many people coming to the village as many locals are becoming anxious about the situation.

Pictures showed wild campers in the Applecross bay area and an overflowing bin. Pic: Applecross Inn Facebook

Pictures taken on Thursday night show the scale of camping in the Applecross bay area and another taken on Friday morning shows an overflowing bin and litter which has been dumped around it. They have also sparked hundreds of comments condemning the mess on social media.

Judith said: "It's absolutely heartbreaking to see. I've been here 31 years now and I have never seen anything like this.

"We just want some respect, really. We never behaved like that and I think there are some young people who are brought up with this festival attitude."

She said two customers came into the Inn on Thursday to say they had seen a group of boys snapping branches off trees to use for a campfire, which led to police being contacted.

Tents pitched up near the shore in Applecross bay. Pic: Applecross Inn Facebook

Judith says a local tourism strategic group has been working hard during the lockdown period to address some of the issues by digging ditches and putting rocks up in some parts of the land, which is owned by the Applecross Trust.

But she says it's been very difficult for both the community and police to manage.

She says the aim is not to make people feel unwelcome but for individuals to show some respect to the environment and people living there, adding: "It's a beautiful bay but this can not go on."

VisitScotland urges people who are wild camping in Scotland to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code by avoiding busy areas, using a stove instead of an open fire and taking away your own rubbish and considering picking up other litter as well.

The Scottish Government also provides a link to the code on its website and makes clear that, although Scotland's access legislation allows camping where access rights apply, these rights come with obligations such as respecting others and the environment.

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