'Disrespectful behaviour' of wild campers in Caithness
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our brand new digital subscription packages!
CAITHNESS has had an influx of wild campers breaking lockdown rules, according to a John O'Groats business owner.
Rebecca Wymer, who runs Stacks bistro along with her mother Teresa, has noticed a sharp rise in wild campers over the past two weeks.
"As local business owners we welcome visitors. However, the disrespectful behaviour of wild campers at Caithness beauty spots is disappointing," she said.
Speaking at the weekend she added: "Wild camping is not allowed until July 15 under Scotland's lockdown. Yet the coastline has seen a sharp rise in the last two weeks."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of the concerns about the "large numbers of people wild camping" in parts of Scotland.
Ms Wymer said: "The parties we have seen are lazy campers on grazing land and at roadsides rather than 'proper' wild campers who seek the wilderness."
She claimed that wild campers often pitch up in "large numbers" and disobey social distancing rules.
"The litter left behind, especially the human waste, can cause toxicity in the water if not dealt with properly.
"It's upsetting to see this behaviour when our community has spent so much money and worked so hard to keep everyone safe."
Ms Wymer said she welcomes visitors and local customers to "safely" visit with the easing of lockdown rules today as part of the government's phase three.
"We look forward to welcoming visitors and local customers safely from the 15th."
Today sees the reopening of the tourism and hospitality sector, albeit with huge changes to safeguard against the transmission of coronavirus.
As part of phase three of Scotland’s lockdown route map, guests can now stay in hotels and on camp sites and visit tourist attractions across the country as transmission of coronavirus continues to be suppressed.
Last week, Ms Wymer came across a large group of wild campers at Sannick Bay in an area where she claims that a No Camping sign is clearly visible.
She said that the group had pitched their tents just opposite the sign.
A Facebook group called Duncansby Head Grazers also posted an image showing tents in the same area and what was believed to be "drug paraphernalia" and other debris lying around.
The post read: "Was up at Duncansby Head this morning checking sheep and could not believe what I was seeing.
"At Sannick beach found numerous tents with litter everywhere and worst of all what appears to be drug paraphernalia scattered about the place. This is a popular local beauty spot and to see it being abused like this is heartbreaking.
"There is no toilet facilities, no waste bins and with lockdown being relaxed is going to get worse and worse. What the campers are doing is illegal as wild camping is only permitted on unenclosed land. The land at Duncansby is enclosed for livestock grazing."
Numerous reports of wild camping where rubbish has been left behind have come from other parts of the county including Auckengill and the Trinkie area near Wick.