Sunday, 10 June 2007

Go wild in the country

I've just watched Landward (Fri 7pm BBC2 Scotland) for the first time in ages. (Thanks to the "heads-up" from Aktoman). I used to watch it on a fairly regular basis when it was transmitted on a Sunday and I enjoyed the mix of farming and general outdoors stuff that they put out.

I was particularly interested in Friday's show because they were going to cover the "contentious issue of wild-camping" here in Scotland. No surprises then that their idea of wild-camping and mine are vastly different.

The wild-campers in question are the folk who pull up their cars on, for example, Loch Lomond-side, unpack their Tesco tent, barbecue and carry-out and proceed to have a jolly old time around the camp fire (fuelled by whatever they can cut, break or otherwise get from the nearest available trees) and, when nature calls, either pish in the loch or take a dump behind the nearest available bush. (Providing it hasn't already been used for firewood, that is).

In the morning, if they can be arsed, they pack up their tent and go home, leaving their mess for someone else to clear up. That's what Park Rangers are for, right? Otherwise, they just get in the car and leave everything; tents, chairs, sleeping bags and rubbish, behind.

The really worrying thing is, Landward never interviewed what I would call a real, low impact, never-know-I'd-been-there wild camper or even gave a proper definition of wild-camping. Instead they talked to some fishermen, complete with massive tent and a cheery fire going, on the shores of Loch Earn. They claimed to leave the place as they found it, the inference being that they are proper wild campers.

The talking heads included somebody from the Ardvorlich Estate (Loch Earn, see above) and Fergus Wood of Ledard Farm. This last fellow was interesting in that Ledard Farm offers, among other things, "bothy-style" accomodation, at a price. Hmmmm.......

Hebe Carus, the Mountaineering Council Of Scotland's Access and Conservation Officer also had a say. Unfortunately, she didn't exactly put them straight on their definition of what is or isn't wild-camping. Instead she suggested that taking your litter home and burying your jobbies* was the way forward. Oh aye, and that we need a "camping code" and that perhaps we should be made to take our jobbies home with us, like they do in "other countries".

I feel an email to the MCofS and Landward coming on. They need to be put straight on what the difference is between a real a wild-camper and what I shall henceforth refer to as a Townie With A Tent, or T.W.A.T. for short.

If we're not careful, we could find ourselves staring down the barrel of access reforms and the kind of legislation that wild-campers in England and Wales currently "enjoy".

*Poo, crap, s**t etc


AktoMan said...

Did you send a letter, Kev? I tried posting in their letters page, but haven't seen it (at time of this post)

Big Kev said...

Hi Duncan. I emailed but got no response. I'll try leaving a comment on their web page. Still no sign of yours at time of writing btw.

AktoMan said...

oooh...comment's been posted there now, BG. I wonder if I'll get hits from the BBC checking the law ... after they make record a piece about the law.

Not very good journalistic practice, but heck, seems fairly standard for Britain these days.