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What's in name? Concerns over 'wild' camping

Monday 13th July 2020, 4:45pm

Mountaineering Scotland is concerned about the recent reports from across Scotland of groups of informal campers whose anti-social behaviour and littering threatens to undermine the activities of the many people who enjoy camping responsibly - both by the roadside and in the wilderness - in keeping with the Scottish access laws.

This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and we are calling for more effective public information to educate people about their responsibilities under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, as well as their rights, along with a multi-agency approach to work with communities on local management solutions.

Wild camping is properly lightweight camping with a tent, done in small numbers for up to two or three nights in any one place, and usually done well away from roads and buildings. Roadside camping is lawful if done responsibly, according to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

The issue of ‘dirty camping’ was highlighted by us last summer, and has reared its head again in recent weeks with additional concerns as large groups take to the glens and loch sides, flouting coronavirus public health advice and causing nuisance and frustration for rural communities. Once again there have been calls to introduce additional legislation to contain informal camping, leading to concerns amongst the mountaineering community that this would negatively impact those who camp wild in the hills as part of their hiking and climbing activities, and adhere to the philosophy of ‘leave no trace’.

Mountaineering Scotland is involved in discussions with partners in the National Access Forum about the issue, and made representations to the Public Petitions Committee in 2019 following a petition to create no camping zones on route of the North Coast 500 (see the full submission here).

At Mountaineering Scotland, we continue to promote responsible access and behaviour to our members and the mountaineering community through our communications and campaigns. We believe that the problem is the behaviour, not the activity of camping, and that the creation of additional legislation will not be the solution. The existing legislation already deals with irresponsible and criminal behaviour; what is needed is more investment in low cost facilities, improved public information and councils, communities and police working together to find local management solutions.

Scottish Outdoor Access Code - camping

Photo credit: Ola Deschepper

Mountaineering Scotland is the representative organisation for Scotland's hill walkers, climbers, mountaineers and ski tourers, with nearly 15,000 members from all walks of life.

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