Scottish Highland lay-bys to be kitted out with trowels in bid to tackle countryside toileting

Telegraph reporters
·3-min read
Car parks and beauty spots along the A838 are busy as tourists take to the North Coast 500 route on July 29, 2020 in Ullapool, Scotland. - Paul Campbell/2020 Getty Images
Car parks and beauty spots along the A838 are busy as tourists take to the North Coast 500 route on July 29, 2020 in Ullapool, Scotland. - Paul Campbell/2020 Getty Images

Lay-bys across the Scottish Highlands are to be equipped with garden trowels in an attempt to tackle people toileting in the countryside.

Around 150 plastic tools are to be made available at roadside areas around tourist hotspots near Ullapool and Dundonnell under plans announced by councillors.

While tourists are typically encouraged to use public toilets, the trowels will provide an emergency, last resort solution for visitors, who will be able to use the tools to bury their waste.

The area covered by the scheme is part of the popular North Coast 500 which, in recent weeks, has seen an influx of visitors who have opted for staycations rather than travelling abroad.

So far 90 plastic trowels have been ordered by the Lochbroom Community Council, and there are plans to order 60 more.

The council has also printed maps of toilet facilities in the area surrounding lay-bys to inform visitors. The community council has been granted £990 from the North Highland Initiative, which helped establish the North Coast 500 as a popular tourist route.

Topher Dawson, chairman of Lochbroom Community Council believes that the rural area's lack of toilet facilities combined with a sharp rise in visitors has caused an upsurge in tourists needing to use the bathroom outside.

He said: "It's easy to get outraged about this but I actually feel sorry for visitors to the Highlands who need to do the toilet outdoors." 

"We've got around 60 or 70 miles of road in the area and there's a gap of about 50 miles with no toilet at all."

Lochbroom Community Council oversees a large part of the north west Highlands. As the number of visitors has increased, there have been growing tensions between neighbouring residents and visitors.

Locals living along the NC500 route have criticised wild campers for allegedly leaving rubbish around and ruining idyllic beauty spots. It is hoped that the latest initiative - aimed at helping both visitors and locals - will improve community relations.

Mr Dawson added: "We want to make visitors and locals free from contamination." 

"This is to offer help and assistance to people who're caught short - we're just trying to improve the situation for everybody.” "It's not a great situation but we're just trying to do the best we can to make it better.”

The latest moves by Lochbroom Community Council follows growing concern on the strain placed on local resources as tourists flock to popular destinations in the UK.

In July, visitors to the Western Isles were asked to plan their bathroom trips carefully following warnings that the majority of public toilets within the area were closed.

Local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, NHS Western Isles and Outer Hebrides Tourism made the request following reports of increased littering and outdoor toileting.

The comhairle told the BBC: "We are reminding people to check which facilities are open when planning their trip and make sure to 'go' before you go.

"Please carry hand sanitiser, toilet paper and bags with you in case you get caught short so you can dispose of your waste safely."