Outdoor enthusiasts urged to act responsibly

A burning tent near Endrick Water.
A burning tent near Endrick Water.

Campers and outdoor enthusiasts are being urged to act responsibly ahead of the bank holiday weekend as thousand head to the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.

This is one of the busiest times of the year as the park is only an hour’s drive for 50 per cent of Scotland’s population.

A spokesperson for the park said: “Camping is a great way to experience the spectacular scenery of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The stunning hills, lochs and glens of Scotland’s first National Park offer amazing opportunities for happy campers to lose themselves in Scotland’s spectacular countryside.

“But because it is so easy to get to, the Park is hugely popular with visitors, both from at home and abroad. In order to protect the special qualities of the Park it is important that campers and all other visitors take their environmental responsibilities seriously. The Park hosts numerous rare and protected species natural to the area, examples of these include wild otter, osprey, water vole and red squirrel. It’s probably easier to disrupt the Park’s natural eco-system than many visitors may think.”

Wildcamping is popular but campers should remember to travel with the minimum of equipment and not stay in one place for longer than one or two days. Also access rights don’t extend to cars.

Other advice includes: Lighting fires - Use a stove if possible. If you must have an open fire, keep it small and under control as grassy and peaty areas are very vulnerable. Never cut down or damage trees for fuel – live trees contain too much water to burn anyway. Deadwood is a natural habitat for many little creatures so don’t burn it, and remember to remove any traces of a fire when you leave.

Litter - There is no excuse. If you brought it with you take it all away too. Bottles, cans and plastics are particularly damaging, but even organic waste can interfere with the local ecosystem and encourage scavengers into an area where they would not normally appear. Further, it may also take a long time to biodegrade at higher altitudes. Set an example by picking up litter left by others if you can. Don’t burn any litter on fires; melted glass, plastic and metal will not biodegrade and releases harmful chemicals.

Toilet etiquette – Take a trowel with you and bury your own toilet waste in a small hole, and not in areas which are likely to struggle to re-grow the vegetation you disturb. Urinate well away (minimum 30 metres) from open water, rivers, burns or other sources of drinking water. Take anything that isn’t biodegradable with you, this includes baby wipes.

Other people - Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. Move on, if the area is already busy. Respect the privacy of those living and working in this part of the world, if there is no safe alternative but to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission first. Always keep noise to a minimum.

If you are leaving a car to walk to your site, remember to park it legally, somewhere safe and where it won’t be a nuisance with other people. Vehicles have a big impact on vegetation, so park on hard ground and in a safe area.

Wherever you choose to camp please ensure you do it responsibly and respectfully. Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing back with you but happy memories (and your rubbish!). More information can be found in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.