A scenic loch near Hawick popular with anglers and photographers is now little better than a toilet for dogs, according to anglers and other townsfolk disgusted by irresponsible owners failing to clean up after their pets.
Dog dirt is increasingly proving to be a problem for visitors to Williestruther Loch, on Hawick common good fund-owned land to the south of the town at Pilmuir Farm, prompting a call to owners to clean up their act.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson has issued that plea after being contacted by loch-goers angered by the amount of dog poo left littered about there.
Mr Paterson reckons the problem dates back to the creation of a boardwalk and car park on the site four years ago.
He said: “The previous Hawick Community Council and Hawick Angling Club, which manages the loch, receive funding for work to make the loch more accessible to the public.
“I warned at the time that it would lead to people coming out with cars and dogs and, before you know it, it is going to be full of dog dirt.
“The council and the angling club were told that Scottish Borders Council did not have the resources to clean the area every day, but the community council said it was all right as they would do it themselves, but it just isn’t happening. The mess down there is absolutely disgusting.”
French Wight, president of Hawick Angling Club and a member of the community council, says the blame rests with irresponsible dog owners.
He said: “At the very beginning, the council said they couldn’t put a waste bin at the loch, but after that, they found the money and they put a bin in the car park, and it is emptied on a regular basis.
“The angling club has put up several notices around the whole loch telling people to pick up and saying that a bin is provided at the car park, but, like everywhere else, they just ignore them.
“The majority of people around the loch pick up, take it back to the car park and there isn’t a problem.
“It’s the selfish ones that let their dogs run loose, let them poo everywhere and keep walking on that are causing the problem.
“It’s the same problem over the hill at Acrenowe Reservoir reservoir, and it’s the same through the whole of the town. Williestruther is not unique.
“We anglers are fishing there at night in the dark, so we can step in this muck.”
Visitor numbers at the loch have gone up since thecommunity council secured £30,000 from Scottish and Southern Electricity’s sustainable development fund in 2014 to provide a new walkway including boardwalks over marshy areas, plus an eight-space car park, with work on those facilities being completed in August the year after.