Loch Mess monsters are ruining our beauty spots

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When triathlete Stuart Lowrie stopped by for a spot of training at the Loch of the Lowes last weekend, he was sickened by the filth strewn all over the local beauty spot.

Despite warning signs banning overnight camping at Oxcleuch Haugh, several campfires have burnt the grass and rubbish is strewn all over the place.

Stuart said: “I was only looking to do a fun wee bit of triathlon swim training in the loch, but I’m sad to say the place is an absolute midden.

“Clearly there is no enforcement of the ‘no overnight vehicle camping’ signs and clearly many that do camp are utter filth.

“There are dozens of burnt bits of grass, fire remnants and litter. This needs to stop before the area is completely spoiled.”

The problem is not a new one, but it does seem to be getting worse.

Back in 2010, then Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale MSP Jeremy Purvis, said he was “concerned” about wild camping after St Mary’s Loch residents complained about intimidation and mess caused by noisy campers, and he pressed the Scottish Minister for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham, for action.

And in 2015, Alistair Moody of nearby Tibbie Shiels Inn said he was closing down after a firearm was allegedly discharged by people camping overnight on the banks of the Loch of the Lowes.

He added then: “On the same night my cat disappeared and has never been seen again, leaving me to contemplate the possibility it was shot.”

Scottish Borders Council has appealed for anyone using the site to use it responsibly and clear up behind them.

A council spokesperson said: “Oxcleuch Haugh picnic site is owned by Wemyss and March Estates, and is managed as a picnic site by the council, in agreement with the estate.

“This agreement sees the council regularly clear litter from the site.

“It is a popular site used by the public for picnicking and under the Land Reform Act, the public have a right to camp responsibly here and in the wider countryside.

“Responsible camping includes taking away all litter, removing all traces of your tent pitch and any open fire and not to cause pollution.

“We would appeal to campers to follow this guidance to maintain this scenic location.

“The council is aware of an information panel at the site which has been damaged, which will be repaired.”