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Health crisis in Sutherland if measures are not in place to support mass tourism


By Louise Glen

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Advreck where cars have been driving illegally onto grass to set up camp.
Advreck where cars have been driving illegally onto grass to set up camp.

A looming health crisis is in the offing if offensive and irresponsible wild camping is allowed to continue in the Highlands.

As reported in last week’s NT, that is the view of community leaders and councillors who are responding to the “horrific” mess left behind by some who are pitching tents on historic monuments and travelling in motorhomes around the north.

With no public toilets open, and fears over a second wave of Covid–19, urgent action is being demanded.

At two sites, at Ardvreck and Calda House in Assynt, locals have even seen campers put up a tent on a historic castle vault, build more than half a dozen fire pits and have been removing ancient stones to cover up areas they have used as a toilet.

After a few weeks of lockdown restrictions being lifted, trustees of Historic Assynt are pleading for help from authorities for the two sites, where camping is already forbidden. Police have been called in to remove campers in the historic area.

A ditch has now been built at Advreck where cars have been driving illegally onto grass to set up camp.
A ditch has now been built at Advreck where cars have been driving illegally onto grass to set up camp.

Dave McBain, the chairman of Historic Assynt said: “We have been receiving phone calls and messages daily about irresponsible behaviour at these two scheduled properties.

“We appreciate that lockdown has affected many of us and respect that people wish to get away from it all for a few days, but due to the actions of a few we feel the need to ask the community and the authorities for help.”

Over the past few weeks tents have been erected under the walls of Calda House, camping on the islet promontory at Ardvreck including reports of a tent on top of the castle vault, at least half a dozen fire pits on Ardvreck promontory, cars driven across private and scheduled land, people defecating in the building at Calda and then removing stones to cover it.

A ditch has now been created and a barrier put up to prevent others driving illegally on to the site.

Fraser Eadie, who runs Smoo Cave Tours, tells us: “People are regularly defecating in the cave. The mess left in the cave is unbelievable. I am having to go down early in the morning to bury human waste – and there are toilets in the car park. Also bags of dog poo have been posted in the donation box at the cave.”

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