Loch Lomond Camping Byelaws Update

The radio piece went well, I got to say what I though was most important: ban the neds, watch out for folk on the WHW; folk like us will carry on as normal. The TV bit was all murder and mayhem, and after the live bit was cut where we were all geared up for giving a positive spin, we feared that the edited piece might be too negative, but it was better than I’d feared.
I spent the day with the Park folk, and went back to HQ to meet some of the other parties that are directly interested in the byelaws. It turns out there are as many reservations and concerns in there as there are out here.
The Park is full of outdoor folk who’ve sought the job out, looking for a change of life, so I don’t think we should regard this situation as “them & us”, it’s a necessary process that we should be involved in, so that we do keep them honest. For example, the WHW officer has exactly the same worries as me, that hikers will get caught out. The WHW isn’t affected until it reaches Balmaha, and after that it does cross Salochy, the worst affected area I think next to Rowardennan. But, they’re setting up an informal campsite in there with some facilities, so they’re not all problems without solutions.
If you know the area in question, you know its beautiful, and you know it’s almost an urban area too. From Drymen to Rowardennan is populated along its length, sometimes sparsely, but there are communties there, farms, houses. In Tom Weir’s day, maybe we could have camped at Salochy and been welcomed in for scones and tea at one of the houses, but we’ve changed all that, it hasn’t beed inflicted upon us. The world is what we’ve made it, we can either say stop or we can let the bastards grind us down.

I’ll be staying in comms with the Park, I’ll be watching this closely. If I’m worried by the way it’s going, I’ll stand up and shout.
But, we’ve got plans under discussion for a project to promote and explain low-impact wild camping to both Park users and the general public. Education by positive example is the way forward.

50 thoughts on “Loch Lomond Camping Byelaws Update

  1. They mention the public consultation, but never mentioned how/where we can have our say, any news on that Peter?

    Anyone got any thoughts on the RAF SAR Choppers getting outsourced story that was also covered this morning?

  2. We ran out of time for the live bit, but there’s a stack of footage been shot which we’ll see late unless it gets bumped for a bigger story.
    I’ve basically spend the day with the Park folk and I’ve learned a lot, we’re not just dealing with a document here, there’s folk in there with concerns and worries, and I do think they’re trying to do their best here.
    I’ll write it up later, my head is bursting!

  3. Aye, that’s the important thing.
    There’s going to be a lot of pissing and moaning about this, but the enforcement is going to be sensible, the two Germans in a backpacking tent will get different treatment to the dozen neds in the Argos tent.

    I’ll be keeping in comms with the Park folk now, we’ve put together some ideas for some stuff, and we’ll see what happens.

    Bloody hell, how vague sounding is that?

  4. It was certainly a surreal experience when i passed that way a couple of years ago. Shortly after breakfast and the neds (love that term beats chav hands down :-)) were hard at the drink.

    Lets hope the situation improves and is handled well, looking forward to what you have to add on the subject ptc.

  5. It might be a bit vague, but at least they have asked those with an interest and everyone is still talking – better than an immediate blanket ban I’d say.

  6. Vorlich, this is a really important point.

    The public has no idea what they’re listening to, you say wild camping then they get the idea that you’re camping somehwere outside of a proper campsite. You say informal camping and they think that you’re camping in casual clothes, or your calling everybody by their first name rather than “Mr”…

    The words used are irrelevant, public understanding of the differences hopefully might come through the consultation process. But we have to get the point across as basically as possible first.
    Pursuing semantics rather than working with the issue at hand is pointless and wasteful.

    Trust me, the web is full of uninformed and biased opinion. That’s why this place never has any “news” items, if I don’t talk to the people involved, use the product or climb the mountain, I don’t write about it.

    Still doesn’t mean I’m right though :o)

    Das, that was “Burnt Orange”, and now that I write that I see the irony in it.

  7. Yeah, I don’t think it’s worth getting too worked up about. The issue is ultimately about behaviour, not labels.

    TBH, if it was me getting interviewed live on national radio, my first concern would be trying not to sound like a fud, never mind correcting the BBC… :)

  8. Aye, Grant and I were focused on getting points out, and the important points were in the answers not the questions.

    Folk may be interetsed to know that Grant and I were comparing notes on snow conditions up north, the boy’s no pen pusher, it turns out he’s a man of the mountains.
    You don’t get that stuff reading a pdf :o)

  9. Hmm, I’m very uneasy about this, despite well-intentioned people and ‘sensible’ enforcement, for two reasons:

    1) Laws, once introduced, *must* apply equally to all. How can you have a byelaw banning camping and then say “ach, we’ll let you pitch because you look like a walker and have an expensive tent…. whereas you with your cheapo Argos Tiger Paws and army surplus trews…”? How is that any different from e.g. ignoring BMW drivers who speed?
    If camping itself is the issue then the ban must apply evenly. If camping isn’t the actual issue and some other criteria will be applied as to what’s acceptable, then the law should target those other issues.

    2) Placatory promises of ‘sensible’ enforcement are worthless in law. Times change, people come and go, new people take new approaches to applying the law. How else do we see laws brought in to combat the terrorist threat used by local councils to check dustbin contents and school catchments, to arrest a heckler at the Labour conference, and to harrass photographers in public places…? Once the law is there someone will want to use the letter of it. Badly targetted laws simply assist that process.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the problem along Loch Lomond and it would be good to find a way to tackle it. But is it really beyond the wit of man to target the actual antisocial behaviour rather than the catch-all of camping there? And if we think that this ban is an effective way, or the only way, then, as outdoors folk I think we have to be prepared to support it not expecting some favourably fudged enforcement but accepting that no camping means no camping for all!

    Meanwhile, any of you Scotshire folk fancy heading south of the border to sharpen up your stealth-camping skills again?!! ;O)

  10. All good points Matt. I”m going to have to think this over more before committing my thoughts to their online survey.

    Why not use existing antisocial behaviour legislation to tackle the problem?

  11. The existing legislation is useless because it requires an offence to have been committed, witnessed and evidenced (is that a word?) before action can be taken. Basically that means nothing will ever change.

    The byelaws are preventative, and they’ll be enforced by rangers doing their rounds, there won’t be cops involved unless they happen upon an incident or are called.
    The nature of the offence does make action discretionary, like any other, is it public interest etc.

    The area in question is almost urban, it’s populated along its entire length. I think those people have priority, then everybody else.
    When you stand there and you can physically see the limits of the exclusion zone on the ground, it really isn’t a worry.

    It’s still winter and the two areas we visited today were already trashed.
    We have no right to camp here anyway, it’s mostly fields, gardens, carparks, forestry, private land an SSSI even!

    I have no issue with the ban at all, as long as the on-the-ground staff are trained to deal with the complexities of situations that could arise.

  12. “We have no right to camp here anyway, it’s mostly fields, gardens, carparks, forestry, private land an SSSI even!”

    Sounds like the perfect spot for a golf course and luxury hotel then… ;-)

    The Honourable Member for Cheshire gets my vote, far too much sense being talked there…

  13. I think Matt does have a very relevent point to be fair, around here we’ve had the bylaws changed to stop people putting bin bags out too early but a couple of jobsworths have decided to take those laws to there ultimate conclusion – the law is the law of course – and it’s just been hassle for those who put bags out before they go to work in the morning. One of the coucil workers involved has since moved to another area and is causing upset there… some people can’t help themselves if they get a little power and bringing about a law that’s only going to be applied sometimes just won’t work.

    Green tents all round then people!

  14. I’ve updated the post with some new info.

    In pre-park years I would have/could have camped along “Byelaw Lane” and not be seen, made no impact, left early and annoyed no one.
    Those spots are still there, but you can only find them if you’re walking the WHW…

    We have to take a stand against the neds. We’re not erecting pylons or casting huge concrete bases in the wilderness for a windfarm, we’re not building a dam to create a new loch whose high watermark will scar the landscape for eternity.
    We’re giving folk the power to take a metaphirical stick to these arseholes who’re trying to spoil out fun.
    I’m 15 minutes from Balamaha, I’m fed up with it being a no-go area in summer. I want these byelaws.

  15. I think I can support the principle of this byelaw. However, my concerns are it might set a precedent that can be exploited elsewhere to try and restrict legitimate access.

    The other thing is, I don’t understand how they plan to enforce it, it’s clear that they can’t have a warden/ranger there 24hrs. Will a ‘no camping’ sign really deter the neds? Won’t they just turn up after everyone has gone home and start drinking?

  16. I don’t think signs will deter them, and to be honest I wouldn’t want to be the poor sod who has to approach these large groups telling them to sling their hook. I hope this doesn’t just move them into other areas with the bylaws following them. There is only one solution, arm the legit walkers and open a ned season. Could create a generous new income into the area as well as lowering crime, a win win situation for all.

  17. I fear the neds will only move onto another place and more bans will pop up. Probably in Glen Etive, lochearn etc. Can’t rangers and police tell the difference between campers/backpackers and neds out on the piss and being arseholes. Surely the problem is drunken antics,litter and noise, cant it be dealt with the same as in town?. I see a time coming when neds and fuckwits will be left to do as they please because noone will have any power to do anything about them, or are we there already.

  18. What you’re all saying there is right. It’s a nightmare situation.
    Signs won’t stop neds, but might deter conscientious campers like us.

    We have to rely on intelligent enforcement.

    Etive. Lochearn, Lubnaig etc, all alreday have problems. I wouldn’t camp in Glen Etive unless it was mile or more beyond the road end. Every layby has a shit-halo around it.

    It rubbish isn’t it? But what do we do, it’s either something or nothing. If we don’t come with more “somethings” then whatever’s offered is what we’ll get.

  19. Got to agree with MattC here, I posted something similar on CT’s blog so won’t repeat it all here. Save to say if you can’t/won’t enforce existing laws using the appropriate authorities then there’s little chance of enforcing new laws using people who don’t have sufficient authority.

    I take the point that if you don’t offer an alternative then you’ll get what you’re given but historically when something perfectly legal is under threat and the law abiding participants agree to futher restrictive legislation they are the ones who ultimately suffer, those who disregard the law as it stands aren’t suddenly going to be ‘educated’ into abiding by new ones. The gun law and VCR Bill (regardless of your view on privately held firearms) are but 2 examples, those who were law abiding handed in their legally held firearms, the criminals haven’t. The idea that you can educate Neds and turn them into responsible ‘Wild Campers’ is a bit optimistic.

    As has already been mentioned if you place a ban in one spot you only shift the problem to somewhere else, it’s already happening and any new bylaws introduced in the Loch Lomond area stand a very good chance of being introduced elsewhere.

    I’ve seen the mess and have every sympathy for those living in the area but the problem has been ongoing for 20+ years when it should have been stopped and could have been stopped a long time ago. Littering alone carries a pretty steep fine, slap a few fines on those responsible and it should educate them well enough.

  20. We need all the points out there John, this is vital stuff.

    R MacE, a couple of important points in there.

    The education is never going to reach the neds, but hopefully it’ll reach the general punter who just doesn’t know what it’s all about, so that when they see me with a big (ish…) pack heading out for a night on Lomond they’ll know that I’m wild camping and not antisocially tenting. We need an understanding of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are so that the public has a chance of feeling empowered by that knowledge and hopefully that moves us towards zero tolerance of arseholes by everyone. If we had that now we wouldn’t need byelaws.
    This is vital to all of us, that’s why I’m on board with organising a project to promote the difference between wild and informal camping and to positive aspects of wild camping in the Park.
    Let’s face it, whatever laws are passed, they’ll have to put a bullet in me to stop me wild camping in the mountains.

    Enforcing will be possible, when the rangers go in for their MOT’s, some are coming out as Special Constables.

    I intend to make as much of a postive difference here as I can, that’s why I’ve gotten involved.

  21. I’ve had a chance to read through the proposals now and feel more at ease with the proposals. The MCoS are on board too, which further helps set my mind at ease.

    I saw the note about some of the rangers becoming Specials, but the proposal still doesn’t address the after hours enforcement issue, but I guess that is a question for the survey.

  22. It’s better to be in than out I guess and clearly something has to be done. There’s a lot of unknowns at present but it’ll become clearer in time. What if’s, questions and concerns are better aired now while there’s still time to address them.

    It’s unlikely that the dedicated wild camper will have any problems unless they introduce some extremely draconian parking laws.

    I’ll watch this with interest.

  23. Again guys, I’m all agreement.

    There’s a side issue here, we can represent the outdoor community to the wider population for what the majority of us are, thoughtful, open-minded, reasonable individuals. Our face has been that of a blinkered confrontational naysayer too long. We need balance.

    This issue has struck home with so many of us, and it seems like we’ve been mobilised to a greater extend that usual.
    That’s just brilliant.

  24. My 2 cents:

    I’ve read through all of these comments, and have come to the view that the law abiding amongst us will be the ones affected by any legislation. The neds won’t; at least in the long term. For the first few years I expect there will be a crack down to send the message that the law is serious, but then slowly people will forget it; including the police probably. Then we’ll be back to where we are.

    Take parking on the pavement for example. I see it loads, including police cars but it is illegal. That doesn’t stop people from doing it and I suspect most aren’t aware of this so the law abiding also park on the pavement.

    With regards to the Loch Lomond situation, as far as I can tell the best way would be for the police and rangers to mount random checks for littering and public drunkenness. ie, enforce the current existing laws rather than making up new specific legislation that could then be slowly extended to other areas that then affect all of us.

  25. At either end of the spectrum, its a no brainer.

    Pissed up neds are bad (and should be flogged with their own fibreglass tent poles), the outdoorsy wild campers (i.e us) should be accommodated if not encouraged.

    Splendid – that’s clear.

    But what about in the middle, those folk who fall in the continuum between wee ned and Big Agnes? An example? maybe a group of students in…say… Coleman tents having a few quiet-ish beers before heading to the hills the next day

    A line would have to be drawn somewhere. Perhaps quite easily near Loch Lomond, but maybe less so in Etive (where the odd Quasar and Vango appears among the Fiberglassery of the great unwashed. Ditto Perthshire.

    I’ve often stuck a tent up next to the car late at night.

    All it would take is one jobsworth for ‘that line’ to be drawn uncomfortably close to the Big Agnes end of the continnuum.

    Maybe the criteria for being tossed out should be tent make! Fibreglass – your oot. If you’ve got a Terra Nova you can stay. if you’ve got a Hilleberg, you can stay and the ranger brings you a complimentary cup of tea in the morning

  26. Membership of an association could be one means of discerning people but unfortunately that would still exclude some of the well intended while leaving others feeling forced to stump up for a subscription that they othwerwise might not have considered.

  27. Here’s an impossibly unrealistic thought: it strikes me in all this that one takes for granted that neds are beyond the pale. And sure enough, they almost certainly are. Nothing gets more on my nerves than seeing them in action, be it at a bothy, a motorway layby or whatever. And I also find the sort of collective punishment we all have to endure because of them deeply irritating (why, for instance do we *all* have to suffer speed humps instead of just saying: right, Mr Ned. If I ever catch you doing 60mph in a 30mph area, that’s it, you’ve lost your licence for life. Or something like that).

    Having said all that, and before I get accused of being a do-gooder: has anyone thought about running initiatives in deepest Nedland to educate future Nedlanders to the beauty of the outdoors and to respecting the hills? Most of these folk will come from situations where the world is a big rubbish bin. I’m not saying it would work, but perhaps it’s worth trying getting these folk before they get marred for life, primary 6 or something like that, show them what the hills have got to give.

    Failing that, instead of a fine if they misbehave, get them to clean up the mess they left behind them. But this sort of community service is something that other people would find humiliating. So there you go.

    Another thing that was quite worrying over the recent snow dump was the increase in poaching. It looks as if the same folk who trash lochsides all over the place go around in white vans shooting at deer with the wrong guns and folk find wounded animals dying the most awful death.

    Well, not sure this makes much sense, but I’m saying it anyway…

  28. A general yes again.

    I hope all these points are going into the official form, it’s good stuff.

    Wull, I saw that press release before it went public, I was dismayed.
    I hope the Lomond Byelaw Lane will be monitored for success or failure first before anything stupid happens.

  29. I grew up in Breadalbane and have a lot of affection for the area, if someone tries to tell me that I am not allowed to put a tent in my bag and strike out I will be heartbroken.

    Surely this Conservative Murdo Fraser’s reaction should be held up as a classic case of what all interested parties should not be doing, it’s seems a blatant ‘knee jerk reaction’.

    Camping aside, the idea that people can’t pull over for a couple of hours nap in the middle of a long drive as this is illegal under a bye law is irresponsible and a hazard.

  30. Aye, Fraser’s an idiot.

    You know what we need if the byelaws are coming in, more campsites that cater for just tents. Small, minimal facilities, not a patch of mown grass either, rough, keep the trees and rocks.
    These could be on every lochside, make the landowners give up patches of land. That way we’re all giving up something here.

  31. I think that happens in some US and European national parks, designated areas for camping, there is one danger though that like cycle lanes even though you have every right not to use them you’re almost expected to, it could easily be used as an argument for restricting camping in areas other than those designated. The other thing is that if they’re free what’s to stop the Neds using them and making them unusable for everybody else either through vandalism/littering or the sort of behaviour that would make the rest of us steer clear anyway.

    The fact is though that it’s your backyard and not mine so clearly you’re in the best position to decide what’s acceptable and what isn’t but I’d tread very carefully here because it could be the thin edge of a wedge and somebody else may have a very large hammer.

    Genuinely interested people like youself will be going in upfront and honest but might not be getting the whole story and if things take a turn for the worse the powers that be will point to the various parties representing or representative of the outdoors community when they need a scapegoat.

    There’s sure to be people with their own agenda watching this very closely and whatever Murdo Fraser is enough people support him to get him in as an MSP and he will have clout where it matters on down the line. I wouldn’t dismiss him as an idiot because to do that is to underestimate the opposition.

    Of course it may all work out fine in the end and everybody will wonder what the fuss was about.

    Best of Luck anyway because it’s a tough one :-)

  32. What is the World coming to?

    I feel strongly like most of you and would love to “clip them round the ear”.

    It’s time all good people in society stood up against these antisocial types and held them accountable.

    My option is that camping really isn’t the issue here, it’s disrespectful thugs who reck and trash anywhere and anything. Be it a wonderful leafy forrest, country walk, green glen, old disused buildings or someone’s car. These people don’t care or have any respect period!

    I say hit them with the “Environmental Protection Act 1990”. Fine them with maximum penalty and if they don’t pay, lock them up… Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    I know this will cost money, time and resources, but we can’t allow this to continue or there’ll be nothing left for future generations.

    Good luck Peter, you’ve got my support.

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