A SCOTTISH motorhome company is telling customers to stay away from the North Coast 500 following reports of vehicles being vandalised.

The NC500 has been a source of contention for residents who have complained about the congestion and mess left along the 516-mile route going from Inverness and taking in dramatic scenery along Scotland's north coast roads.

Now Perth-based Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire is advising its customers to enjoy other "motorhome friendly routes" after they have experienced tyres on vehicles being slashed along with eggs and yoghurt being thrown at them.

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Describing the route as being a "victim of its own success", an update on the company's website reads: "We wish all customers have an enjoyable holiday experience with us, however due [to] our customers' feedback we are now advising customers to avoid the NC500 route. 

"Unfortunately it is a victim of its own success with the roads crammed with tourists but especially the huge influx of motorhomes and the narrow roads and delicate infrastructure is simply unable to cope to the point where some locals are now aggressive towards motorhomes.

The National:

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"In recent weeks we have had tyres slashed, wheel trims stolen, motorhomes being egged and also cartons of yoghurt thrown at our motorhomes along this route. 

"We have designed motorhome friendly routes which are far more scenic where you can holiday in peace and quiet, please ask us for details."

Gordon Murray, the owner of Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire told the Press and Journal that tyres being slashed on motorhomes has become "a common occurrence" 

Amid a surge in staycations due to travel restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, Murray told the newspaper that while normally 60-70% of their customers come from overseas, this year "it is 85% to 90% from England, mainly the south of England".

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As people from across the UK have flocked to the Scottish Highlands for holidays this summer, locals have seen a surge in "dirty campers" leaving faeces, toilet paper and sanitary towels on Ceannabeinne Beach, just east of Durness on the far north coast.

The Applecross area, on the route's north-west leg, has notoriously tight and challenging roads and large motorhomes usually get into difficulty on that section, causing travel issues for locals.

Elsewhere, on the road between Arisaig and Morar, locals complained of the tourist surge in the area with more than 230 cars parked along the edges of the B8008, blocking the road in parts.

Murray said that "you can't really blame the locals" for getting upset about the overcrowding which is why the firm is now advising customers to take alternative routes.

He said that a route going from Perth to Oban, up to Ullapool then back to Inverness is now one of the more popular amongst customers.

Now, the organisation that promotes the NC500, businesses along its route and offers advice to people looking to travel it, has asked Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire to substantiate claims about motorhome vandalism.

The National: Craig Mills, Operations Director at North Coast 500
Pic Trevor Martin

READ MORE: NC500 group calls on motorhome firm to substantiate vandalism claims

North Coast 500 Ltd said in a release seen by The National that no reports of vandalism along the route had been reported to them and the company's head of operations, Craig Mills (above), said they "strongly condemn any irresponsible or anti-social behaviour conducted by a minority of people on the NC500 and would urge people to report such behaviour to Police Scotland and other relevant authorities in the first instance."

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “The Highland Council and its partners on the Visitor Management Groups continue to welcome and support visitors to Highland and the NC500.  Vandalism or damage to vehicles or any other property should be reported to Police.”

Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire told The National they would not be drawn into a debate with NC500 Ltd through the media and would happily talk to NC500 Ltd directly about their concerns.