Dirty campers spoil area of scenic beauty

One of the Borders’ most beautiful picnic spots is being ruined by campers who leave their rubbish lying around and even defecate out in the open, according to the owner of the historic Tibbie Shiels Inn in the Yarrow Valley.

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 5:06 pm
The rubbish left by campers and bagged up by lochside resident Karen Moakes.

Hundreds of people are taking advantage of the recent good weather to camp next to the scenic St Mary’s Loch and the Loch o’ the Lowes, but while the vast majority seem to be taking their rubbish home, many are not.

And Alistair Moody, who runs the inn and the registered campsite there, says he cannot open his business until this behaviour stops.

He said: “After postponing the re-opening of our holiday let and campsite here at Tibbie Shiels Inn for two weeks due to the situation on the Green adjacent, we feel we have no choice but to cancel our reopening, including cancelling our holiday let bookings this week, worth £570, and all camping bookings worth approx £600 per day at weekends and approximately £400 per day during the week.

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Alistair Moody, owner of the Tibbie Shiels Inn.

“Obviously the weather has a huge influence on folks motivation to go camping, but given the current circumstances we could fill our holiday let and campsite three times over.”

But, he says, with campers being asked to pay £10 each to camp by the loch, and with no toilet facilities available, there was no way he could think about opening up.

He said: “Folk continue to defecate in numbers on the river bank five yards away from and in full view of our static caravan, rendering it unrentable.

“If we were to open our campsite and toilets, there is no doubt we will be inundated by folk camping elsewhere using them, a situation I have no wish to even attempt to manage.”

And he added: “With no management in place, antisocial behaviour is now a daily experience ... it just varies by degree, and all the other problems we have all been experiencing here, with the police being called and attending many times.”

He said he had to help one male who was under the influence of drink and lying on the A608, who he says became unruly after being helped to the side of the road.

He told us today: “Our only guests in our apartment, which faces away from the Green, were booked in for three days, however, they left this morning because of the noise that continued until around 5am.

“We have been constantly victims of antisocial behaviour on the green and last night was no exception.”

His neighbour, Karen Moakes, who last month complained about the amount of rubbish left lying around by campers, told us she had begun taking £10 per tent from campers and recording their names and addresses.

She said: “It was a bit of an experiment, and the money was to go into a community fund which would pay for uplifts of rubbish and a new bin.

“I told Alistair what I was doing and it was for the community, but he didn’t want to know.

“I think our little experiment was a success, as the vast majority of people were taking their rubbish home with them.

“The rubbish that was left, I bagged up and put it next to the bottle bank and it was uplifted.

“I’m just trying to keep the place beautiful for us who live here and for others to experience.

“I love this place. I just want to keep it tidy and clean.

“We have taken a couple of hundred pounds from the campers over the past couple of weeks, and if the council doesn’t want it we’ll send it to charity.”

She added that she passed on the contact details of the Tibbie Shiels site so they could use that next time.

Mr Moody told us that the public toilets at the site have now been opened.

He added: “I feel that reopening the public toilets is totally inappropriate given the situation, and will only serve to relieve the pressure on the landowner to manage the campers and other visitors that they are allowing to park at their leisure, on their property.”

The site is owned by Wemyss and March Estates, which also owns a site at the Meldon Hills near Peebles, where a marquee was trashed by a group of men two weeks ago.