Friday, 25 June 2010

Do I blog it?

I've just enjoyed a three-week, non-commissioned HOLIDAY.

But the question remains, do I blog about it?

Rather than go into the tenuous detail, it's probably best to watch the video (bandwidth permitting) which you may see here:

Very deliberately, the beauty spots that I discovered in the vid are not named.

So why the reticence to blog?

Things were very different this year to last.

The attraction of this magical corner of the country is its isolation and wild, laid-back feel. Before, it was possible to camp near much anywhere as long as the country code and common sense were employed.

The trouble is, too many people have got wind of it. One or two camper vans and a little caravan anyone can overlook for a couple of nights. But lots and lots of overcab motorhomes, tents, and sometimes caravans would turn up, plonk themselves in a beauty spot, and stay put on a 'free' holiday for weeks at a time. Some of the campers didn't care. There was evidence of fires being lit on the ground in some places, and at two wild camping spots I spent the first half hour with a plastic sack cleaning up rubbish. If I didn't do it, the locals would see it, and another area would ban wild camping.

And so it is that in two areas, wild camping has now been as good as banned. Caravans and motorhomes have to pay £10 per night to stay on a croft with running cold water and no other facilities. On one island you must drive your loo waste a few miles to be rid of it. On another island, your stay is limited by your loo capacity because all chemical toilet waste must be removed from the island.

Basically, the magic is going. I still had the most amazing time, but the days of wild camping in Scotland are numbered.

When I returned to the mainland, I stumbled upon what I believe to be the cause.

There is a forum-style website dedicated to camping in the UK for free. On it, people share information about wild camping spots. And here I think lies the problem.

Put anything on the internet, and you have no control over who sees it and who acts upon it. It's a lot different to meeting a nice couple on your travels who lead a respectable life and use a respectable outfit, and then sharing any information with them on a personal basis.

Numpties have been publicising the wild camping spots to everyone. Absolutely everyone. Including the irresponsible.

As these places get saturated with blaggers and freebie-searchers (as opposed to those who wish to camp freely and responsibly and spend the money they save in the local economy), wild camping gets banned.

I can see that as wild camping becomes banned in more places, the 'takers' will spread like a fungus to the places where it is still allowed, where their numbers and behaviour will lead to further bans until there is nowhere left to go other than a croft or a site.

The internet is a wonderful tool if used correctly. It is also highly destructive if used without care. I can see that the wild camping forum will kill the golden goose for all of us.

It's very sad. Enjoy camping freedom while it lasts. It may not last much longer thanks to the well-meaning folk who have not thought through the consequences of their good intentions.

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