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Help us stamp out irresponsible camping!

16th June 2023

That’s the message from the Cairngorms National Park Authority as the height of the summer holiday season approaches, particularly aimed at those who choose to camp at the Park’s popular spots.

Any camping in the Park must be done with the utmost care, respecting local communities, the Park’s precious wildlife and the habitats they depend on.

The Loch Morlich and Glenmore area – owned and managed by Forestry and Land Scotland – is particularly busy at weekends, with multiple tents on the beach, campfires, litter and instances of anti social behaviour.

Lauren MacCallum, a local Park Authority board member said: “Most of our visitors are fantastic and we extend them a very warm welcome but sadly we are seeing a small but damaging number of people irresponsibly camping in this location – this is having a negative impact and needs to stop.

“The rangers in the National Park are all doing a brilliant job out on patrol but they cannot be everywhere at once and have limited powers. Therefore people must adhere to the onsite signage about fire risk and ensure they clean up after themselves. Local residents have every right to express their concerns about the situation and we want them to know that the Park Authority and partner organisations are listening and taking action. After all, most of our staff and board members are residents too, so we care just as much.”

The Cairngorms National Park Authority is working with land managers, local businesses and community representatives as well as the emergency services to ensure people can enjoy the Park in a safe and responsible manner.

Head of Visitor Services at the Park Authority, Colin Simpson said: “We want to reassure local communities that there is a partnership approach to this and we are all working extremely hard to prevent damage to our National Park’s special qualities and our reputation as being a welcoming visitor destination.

“With other agencies, we are monitoring the situation in Glenmore, assessing the information gathered and putting in place actions to deal with problem campers.”

Measures include:

  • Enhanced police patrols during July and August on Friday and Saturday evenings.
  • Increasing numbers of joint patrols in the area with Forestry and Land Scotland rangers and Park Authority rangers working together.
  • Rangers distributing new leaflets to campers specifically about fires, outlining the rules and the potential consequences if on site advice is ignored. Wider communications is focusing on pushing good practice and fire awareness messages through online, social media and print media as well as through radio and television bulletins.

Colin explained: “While the efforts outlined are helping to address some of the pressures, clearly some elements of behaviour are not appropriate and more work needs to be done. We are working to put in place a new Active Cairngorms Action Plan which will include proposals for Glenmore and more broadly, we are pressing Scottish Government to consider new management mechanisms that are simple to operate. We are also looking at how we can step up our joint work to enforcement, cautioning and fining people who are behaving inappropriately.”

Forestry and Land Scotland’s Visitor Services Manager, Paul Hibberd, said: “Glenmore is recognised as the single most pressured site managed by FLS. It attracts very high visitor numbers and a significant amount of irresponsible behaviour within a landscape of outstanding natural beauty and very high conservation interest.

“We work closely with our partners to deal with these issues and we currently have more staff resource in Glenmore to help manage visitor pressure than we have ever had before. However, our staff cannot be on site 24 hours a day or deal immediately with every issue, so we encourage anyone seeing dangerously irresponsible behaviour to call the fire service or the police.

“We will continue to work with partners to manage and minimise these issues, and work together for better sustainable solutions.”

Lauren MacCallum added: “We’re calling on everyone to help look after this beautiful, protected area. So called ‘dirty camping’ and the anti-social behaviour that goes with it is a drain on the emergency services as well as proving particularly challenging for local rangers who are trying to ensure everyone has a pleasant time and stays safe.”

At no time, should anyone be lighting a fire in the Cairngorms National Park, posing a risk to people, property, and our natural heritage. Every time our emergency services are called to deal with the consequences of a campfire, it delays their ability to respond to life saving emergencies. Lighting a campfire when all the signs and the rangers say ‘no’, is a highly selfish act.

“We welcome everyone who wants to come and enjoy this wonderful place and we are extremely lucky to have a right of responsible access but this should never be taken for granted.”

The Cairngorms National Park Authority does not own or manage any land directly but instead, works in partnership to support local land managers whether they be public sector, private or in the ownership of a charity. The Park Authority – as the outdoor access authority for the Park – has a primary role to educate and inform people about the right thing to do. Where there is an incident that requires an urgent response, people are asked to contact the emergency services. For more information on camping responsibly please visit the Cairngorms National Park Authority website