Landowners, land managers, outdoor enthusiasts and others with an interest in the new outdoor access legislation have been invited to a seminar on Wild Camping at Glencoe Visitor Centre on the 22 February.
The seminar is the first to be held jointly between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). Its aim is to stimulate debate and discussion on wild and roadside camping and the land management issues arising from this.
The arrival of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 brings the right of responsible access to Scotland. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides detailed guidance on the responsibilities of those exercising access rights and of those managing land and water. Everybody has statutory rights to access most land and inland water as long as they exercise them responsibly by respecting people's privacy, safety and livelihoods, and Scotland's environment.
Local Access Forums have been formed throughout Scotland to advise access authorities and other parties on access rights, corepaths and right of way. It is within this context that the seminar seeks to address how camping away from formal camping sites can be undertaken responsibly and managed effectively.
Traditionally, wild camping has been a feature of outdoor pursuits in Scotland, where it has been enjoyed as part of overnight expeditions involving hillwalking, climbing canoeing, and cycling, etc. The 'Code' now confirms that wild camping is within access rights provided it is done in a responsible way. The Trespass (Scotland) Act, 1865 has been amended such that responsible wild camping is not an offence. Roadside camping has also been a tradition over the decades, often used as a base for various outdoor pursuits but, with growing numbers, this presents a number of management challenges. This does not constitute wild camping as defined in the Code.
Kristin Scott, SNH West Highland Area Manager will welcome the delegates on the day, together with Fiona Chalmers, NTS Property Manager in Glencoe.
Kristin said: "Now that the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is in place and people can exercise their right of access, this has raised some interesting questions in relation to wild camping. There are a number of things that wild campers can do to take care of the natural heritage surrounding them while at the same time enjoying it. We will look at some of these questions through a number of case studies and hopefully come up with some answers. "
Fiona Chalmers said: "We are particularly pleased to be organising this joint seminar with SNH as it is a good example of the benefits of the Concordat between the two organisations. In addition, the issue of Wild Camping is one that we are striving to develop a positive management approach to on National Trust land in Glen Etive and the seminar will prove a good forum for exploring ideas and possible management solutions."
Speakers at the seminar will set the scene in terms of the new legislation. The issues surrounding wild camping will be teased out through case studies from Glen Etive and both of Scotlands National Parks.