When I started this blog back in 2015 the idea was for it to be a showcase or online diary of our new lives in Scotland. Finding new walks, places to eat, wildlife encounters, events and other excitement all documented and photographed. Since then this place I now call home means so much more to me. Afterall one of the reasons we moved here was because of the natural beauty and what it has to offer. More recently I have been struggling with the thought of how much damage is caused by our wanderlust and it’s impact on Scotland (and across the world).
You only have to look on Instagram to see beautiful images of turquoise clear water, empty white beaches and it’s all geo-tagged. So we all decide we are going to invade said empty white beaches, leave our left over sandwich wrappers and drop a plastic bottle and then it’s gone. Forever.
Be responsible visitors
Another example that I can think of (and this rather makes my blood boil) are the deer at the Kings Hotel in Glen Coe. Wild animals that have come to learn that if they hang around for a few photos with tourists the chances of being fed are quite high. I have been one of said tourists who have stopped off here. Our primary focus was to take photos of Buachaille etive mor but we witnessed people feeding these elegant beasts digestive biscuits! You know, the ones we dunk in our coffee and that are full of sugar. I’m not just talking about one or two that are left over but a whole packet that they had brought specifically for the deer. C’mon people!
Spoiler alert: there are no such things as Litter Faeries
Here in Scotland under the Land Reform Act 2003 we have the Right to Roam. This allows everyone access to most land and inland water but is to be done in a responsible manner. The whole ethos being to leave no trace. Wild camping should have minimal impact on the environment. It is a privilege afforded to those of us that live here and also those that visit. Sadly there are a few that think it is acceptable to set up camp somewhere and cut tree branches down for fire wood (I’ll give you a tip, fresh wood does not burn well). When they leave, rather than take everything they brought down with them, they “forget” to take home the empty beer cans and food wrappers. Sometimes it’s much worse with whole tents left behind. So the place they chose to visit because if it’s beauty is now decimated because of laziness. Rubbish left for locals or the council to remove. Sorry to ruin the illusion but Litter Faeries don’t exist.
Always have a Plan B
It’s important to always have a plan B for our roadtrips, wild swims and walks. We all know weekends are especially busy in the summer and some of the honey pot destinations don’t all have adequate facilities (that’s a whole other blog post). Parking can be at a premium and it’s easy to think it won’t matter if you park on the grass verge or across the gateway to a field.
It DOES matter.
There have been occasions when the emergency services have been called to a location to help someone who has become unwell and have struggled through a single track road with vehicles parked on either side only to reach the access gate and it’s blocked.
The place you have chosen for your wild swim will be there another time. Wouldn’t you rather swim or walk where there are less people? The experience will be made even more special if it feels like you’re the only one that knows about it.
Ordnance Survey maps or Google Earth are excellent ways of scouting out places and alternatives. Don’t feel that it’s ruined your plans. Plans should always be fluid.
Our wanderlust and it’s impact on Scotland
It is a privilege to have such an encounter with wild animals and spectacular landscapes but we really do need to think about the implications of our actions.
Of course there is a certain scene from the James Bond film, Skyfall that everyone wishes to replicate too. Except now it’s not quiet and somewhere you can be alone with your thoughts. It’s full of cars and people wanting to get “the” photo. Then what to do? It’s a single track road with passing places where people are parked so you can’t pull in or turn around. So you pull up onto the grass verge after it’s been raining for three days and don’t think anymore of it. When you pull away you have to give it a bit of welly because it’s greasy and you’ve no traction and this results in tearing up the grass and and moss etc.
I am not entirely clued up on the full impact of tourism and social media and its affects but it is certainly something I will be researching and taking more seriously. I do know that these are not isolated incidents. These are ones I have witnessed first hand (and no I didn’t go down to get the Skyfall photo). The affect from so many people driving and parking where they like or leaving litter, lighting fires etc does take its toll on the environment and wildlife.
I didn’t want to turn this post into a rant (although it sort of has), more an education, or an eye opener (to some, not everyone). Also taking the chance to say that from now on in if I write about a quiet and picturesque place I have stumbled across then I might not geo-tag it on Instagram or name drop in my blog. I will, however be more general with my location, otherwise I think I may struggle to call myself a travel blogger, and share it’s beauty through my photographs.
So, from here my plan is to continue inspiring people to find their own version of Scotland, reviewing and promoting this stunning, friendly and vibrant country just with less social media geo-tags. I am also hoping to cover more local Perthshire based attractions and events, so do follow my tales.
Scotland is here to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Lets keep it a place that people want to keep coming back to explore. Lets not let our wanderlust ruin such beauty. Please do go and enjoy the great outdoors, views and make your own moments but be mindful of there reason you visited in the first place.