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Camping on Machair Land

Title: Camping on Machair Land
Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 06-06-2009

Discussion: I'm going to make myself rather unpopular with all the happy campers who are currently flooding the Islands but some things need to be said; please do not camp on our machair land! It is astonishing that at present there is no legislation in place to make this enforcable, as the fragility of the machair's eco-system is in grave danger of being damaged beyond repair. The Roads Equivalant Tariff (RET) has already brought unprecedented numbers of caravaners, campers and mobile homes to South Uist. By the end of summer 2009, the machair will be in a very sorry state if the present usage is allowed to continue.
Please try to use the official campsites, which offer very good facilities, especially for disposal of chemical waste and other camping by-products. Even disposing of tea/coffee/soft drink dregs can have a very serious impact on such a rare, and endangered environment. As I've already stated, this (at present) cannot be enforced, unless you are parking on my common grazing, (where I will politely request that you move as my cows need the land more than you do!) but I would appeal to visitors who truly care for the Hebrides and who want the machair to be preserved for generations to come, to please camp/park responsibly. Give a little to our equally fragile local economy by using official camp sites. The Islanders will appreciate this I can assure you.

Replies to this post

Posted by: admin on 17-06-2010

I have contacted Moorcroft holiday / campsite directly and will be posting details of the new campsite on North Uist which has full facilities. I will repost once this is done and should be done shortly. This should help everyone.

There are two distinct campsites now on the Islands, both Benbecula and North Uist.

Watch this space.

Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 11-06-2010

Thanks for that Tom. Have a lovely summer and haste ye back to Uist!
For anyone following this thread I'd just like to say that this will be my last post. I feel I've said all I have to say on the subject and I feel I've been fair and reasonable in how I said it.
Signing off with heartfelt wish that things will change for the better for everone who wishes to enjoy their Uist experience.

Posted by: Tom Robertson on 11-06-2010

I forgot to add that with one exception I always felt welcome in the Uists and Benbecula. Credit must also be paid to the local government who have provided facilities at the ferry ports etc for campers/campervans etc.
I would have come back again this year but I only have a certain amount of time off work and there are other places I want to see! Maybe next year, and I promise I will stay on a site!

Posted by: Tom Robertson on 11-06-2010

Cathie, the whole of the UK is rather campervcan unfriendly. Height barriers in car parks, no campervan/caravan signs, no parking bays in car parks large enough for a van so you get fined for parking outside the lines! France and indeed most other European countries are generally campervan friendly. Villages and towns provide places to dump waste both grey and black and supply fresh water taps. Many also set aside places for campervans to stay overnight - providing the facilities above and even electricity! All for no charge or a few Euros. Thes places may only be car parks but there are hundreds of them throughout France alone. The local government see it as a way of getting tourists into their area and to spend some money - ok it may only be a couple of sticks of bread but it is a sale they wouldn't otherwise have had - and it makes the tourist want to come back.
I personally prefer to stay on sites (in both UK and France) - I like the facilities provided. I have only parked once on the Machair and that was at the airport in Barra which has now been blocked off (understandably). I understand how fragile the Machair is but perhaps visitors from England (and probably Scotland) and Europe are not aware of this. Wouldn't education/information be the way forward? Perhaps a leaflet handed out to campervans/caravans/campers on the ferry explaining the problem may be the way forward. I know, it all costs money but I am sure ways can be found.

Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 10-06-2010

Ooh that hurt Tom! Sorry you didn't feel we offered the same warmth as the French apparently do. I hope you can see that this isn't a personal attack on individual camper van owners, who are largely holiday makers with an agenda to have a lovely holiday in a nice place. Most holiday makers are not eco-warriors I think it is fair to say, which is why SOMEONE has to be concerned about the potential impact of SO MANY visitors.This will hopefully change as our local authority realises that we have a camper van overcrowding problem on our wee stretches of land and includes better infrastructure in their next round of spending. (Some hope) Perhaps the areas of France you will be visiting are governed at local level by personel dedicated to ensuring that British visitors are made to feel completely at home, even within fragile eco-systems. (though I somehow doubt it.) I am quite sure that they would not allow the ad hoc marring of land that our local authority (and other well funded 'environmental' agencies) are currently turning a blind eye to. This is not about your holiday, Tom, this is about the big picture. Selfishness does not equate to sound judgement.

Posted by: Tom Robertson on 10-06-2010

Cathie, I was not trying to shift the blame, just making the point that it isn't only the tourists who leave rubbish lying around but they always seem to get the blame!
I am happy to hear that there is now another campsite opening - on North Uist. I remember having happy holidays in an old caravan on that croft many years ago! Maybe I will take my campervan there next year - off to France this year where campervans are generally made very welcome!

Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 09-06-2010

Yes, very good Seumus! Love the dry wit!

Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 09-06-2010

A'nis a'nis a'nis. Let's not get carried away with ourselves here. This thread was started due to my genuine concern for the lovely environment which we are lucky enough to have here. it would be counter productive if it became something different. One of the reasons it is so hard to get people here to agree on any issue is the Uist dry wit, or sarcasm, which causes rifts and disputes to overtake the real concerns in question. I admit I fell into the trap: I just can't help taking the odd potshot, but really it is an evil pleasure! So Seumas, I didn't mean to cause offence. I'm sure when push comes to shove we are all looking for the same thing. And we shouldn't start comparing crofts, cause mine is better than yours anyway. (See, I just can't help myself....LOL) Lets lighten up folks.

Posted by: Cathie Fraser on 09-06-2010

Kathy Stevenson - stop it! When have you ever heard an Uisteach expressing 'wrath'? We are far too polite (and a bit repressed if truth be told) LOL
Karen macaulay - we can pretend it's not happening but the evidence speaks for itself! Thank you.
Andrew Macdonald - come and see me at once. I am most definitely a 'local' Okay! Locals are allowed to care about the planet too, don't ya know?!
Seamus Macleod - as above. A totally pointless comment. Apart from anything else, have you seen the price of fencing materials these days? No, I suppose not as you don't have a clue what you're talking about.
Tom Robertson - please don't try to shift the blame. None of us are perfect but if you start the old 'eye for an eye' melarky where will it end?!
Alison Ross - thank you for reading this (mostly drivel) post and for your gentle response.

Posted by: Alison Ross on 06-06-2010

Very helpful, thank you. I hope it can be enforced. The machair so important.

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