Leave No Trace
It seems like such a simple concept, but one that a significant minority seem to have a great deal of trouble following this summer. Social media is flooded with reports of litter in almost all of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots. Coronavirus also seems to have spawned a significant minority of inconsiderate roadside campers, who are not dealing with their waste responsibly.
Also there seem to be a lot of people who don’t have an appreciation for how to have a fire in the outdoors – mind you when you see the scars left on the hill left from heather burning on the grouse moors, you can understand to a certain extent why many would not understand that an open fire on the ground causes all kinds of issues further down the line
What’s the solution?
Short term there probably isn’t one. People’s fears of being in a situation where they might contract coronavirus outweigh their sense of responsibility for dealing with their waste. The worst of it is that many seem to have abandoned all responsibility for toileting in the outdoors.
- Do we need signs showing how to responsibly go to the loo in the outdoors?
- Should we issue rangers with a selection of collapsible trowels to sell?
- Should only self-contained campervans/caravans with their own chemical toilets be allowed to park up in public car parks?
- Do we need extra rangers? But is it really the job of rangers to clean up human waste left on the ground.
- Can we offer extra portable toilets? Would we then also need to provide extra cleaners? How would the council pay for this?
Why do a significant minority of people not appreciate that if they don’t leave the beauty spot as they found it, then it will not remain beautiful for long? Apparently there are some who think that if rubbish is left in the outdoors, it will clean itself. Unfortunately in the Highlands, due to the climate, this is not a rapid process.
I’m sure that any of you who have been out with us have not deliberately littered the countryside. Sometimes it is involuntary – the wind can easily rip something out of your hands, especially on the high tops when a gale is blowing. It’s not always possible to chase it down. We are enthusiastic supporters of Leave No Trace principles and Andy is also firmly committed to reduce-reuse-recycle principles as well.
Please – if you’re going to camp by the roadside, by which we mean under 30 minutes walk from the road or within sight of cars/a road – pack a shovel and make sure you bury your waste. Also bear in mind the advice I recently found online, to keep a small wash bag with you full of essentials for wild toileting: sanitiser, paper, a collapsible shovel and a lighter. Once you’ve prepared your toilet site and done your business, you can use the lighter to burn the paper, then bury what’s left. Human waste will degrade far more quickly if it is buried.
What we consider to be wild camping
It’s a shame that wild camping is getting such a bad name a the moment here in the Highlands. We like to distinguish between roadside camping, dirty camping and wild camping. Our new Wilderness Glamping Expedition is really “pure” wild camping following the Leave No Trace principles and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code completely without sacrificing comfort.
Is it the case long-term though that camping in whatever form it takes is really the problem? Perhaps we’re facing a more serious issue as per Chris Townsend’s article below.
Interesting perspective from Chris Townsend Industrialising wild places is the big threat, not roadside camping.
A beginner’s guide to guiding in Scotland by Fiona Russell