Durness 'swamped' by post-lockdown roadside campers

  • Published
TentsImage source, Neil Fuller
Image caption,
Villagers counted 27 tents camped on the outskirts of the village over the weekend

A small village on Scotland's north coast says it is being "swamped" by visitors who have little or no regard for the local community or environment.

Neil Fuller, from Durness in Highland, said dozens of people were camping on "fragile" dunes each night and leaving broken glass and human waste.

The village is on the popular North Coast 500 (NC500) tourist route.

Mr Fuller told BBC Scotland the behaviour of some of the visitors was "grim".

"I fully sympathise with people who live in a tower block. We're really lucky here and lockdown wasn't too bad, but it's testing me now, he said.

"You can't walk the dog without constantly looking for broken glass."

Mr Fuller, who runs the local bus service, said the problems in the village had been getting steadily worse since the launch of the NC500 route in 2015 - but he believes the issue has been heightened by the end of lockdown.

Tourism in Scotland opened up on 15 July and many people are holidaying in the UK because they cannot go abroad.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The NC500, which bills itself as the "ultimate road trip" features roads in the Black Isle, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross.

"Durness has always been popular - it's always punched above its weight, but it's just significantly changed from an unwanted promotion," he said.

"I like the idea of the NC500, but we don't have the infrastructure to support it. The roads are suffering."

Mr Fuller said the scenes on the outskirts of the village "broke his heart".

Image source, Neil Fuller
Image caption,
Neil Fuller said some cars were parking in passing spaces

In a series of Tweets on Saturday evening, Mr Fuller appealed directly to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for help with the issue.

"@NicolaSturgeon Please help, our little village is being swamped. 27 tents on the wrong side of the campsite fence on Sango tonight. Parking on the verges, in passing places and in the machair, multiple fires and no end in sight." he said.

"This is a fragile dune system with rare wild flowers and rarer ground nesting solitary bees. It's being overwhelmed by footfall let alone the cars, campsites, fires and of course the toileting. It is relentless, day after day after day."

Mr Fuller told the BBC that the village of 320 people was being overwhelmed and outnumbered by visitors each night.

Human waste

"What I'm seeing is large groups of young men in multiple vehicles all meeting for their party at the the end of the day," he said.

"I'm finding human waste, wet wipes and broken glass. It's grim."

A Scottish government spokesperson said that many businesses rely on tourism but visitors all have a part to play in enjoying the country responsibly.

"Anyone visiting tourist attractions or destinations must be mindful of local communities and respect those living in the area," the government said in a statement.

"We have some of the best experiences in the world here in Scotland and if everyone acts considerately we can all enjoy them safely while supporting the local economy."