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Call for awareness after fleet of campervans spotted at ‘no-go’ site on a car park in Culloden Woods which is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland – evidence showed that a fire had been lit and they had stayed overnight

By Neil MacPhail

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Actions are being taken by those who care for Culloden Woods after a fleet of campervans were spotted in its car park.

A nearby resident alerted the Inverness Courier to a number of campervans at the car park early on Tuesday morning. He suggested there was evidence of a fire being lit and that it looked like they had been there overnight.

It has prompted Forestry and Land Scotland, which manages the site, to urge locals to highlight concerns. It is also asking an online blogger promoting Culloden Woods among wild camping sites in Scotland to make changes.

The resident, who did not want to be named, said the fleet left little parking for other people who use the woods for exercise and dog walking.

A spokesman for Forestry and Land Scotland said: “With staycations being this year’s favoured holiday option we expect to see an upsurge in visitors across the board – including those with campervans and motorhomes.

“In a bid to help alleviate the pressures that this might place on many communities, we are featuring a small number of our car parks in a ‘Stay the Night’ trial, which tests the viability of letting campervans stay for one night at sites that we manage. However, Culloden is not one of the participating sites and we would encourage anyone with concerns relating to overnight campervan stays to contact us directly at inquiries.north@forestryandland.gov.scot

“Our rangers patrol Culloden Woods regularly, and we are aware of concerns related to fires there, and are working with the local Scottish Fire and Rescue Service team to address the issue.”

He added that it did not have a “no overnight stays” sign at Culloden Woods this week because it changes its signage.

“There are other issues to deal with at Culloden, so we vary the signage to maximise the likely number of people who see them,” he said.

“Too many signs and the messages get lost, one sign all the time and people stop seeing it.

“We will have the ‘no overnight stays’ signs in place for this weekend.

“We have also contacted a blogger who had erroneously promoted this site as a place to stay, along with three more of our car parks that are not in the Stay the Night trial, and she has agreed to amend her blog.”

Highland Council is aware of the major increase in mobile holidays and is working with landowners to help create “aires”, temporary stopover sites for mobile homes.

Council tourism committee chairman Gordon Adam said: “The demand for travelling via motorhome has been intensified during the pandemic and as a result, the Highlands are experiencing a significant increase of motorhomes and campervan visitors. We urge them to book and plan ahead wherever possible.”

Council communities and place committee chairman Alan Henderson said its visitor management plan has created a landowner guide to help create temporary motorhome stopovers. This allows temporary use of appropriate locations without the need for formal planning permission.

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