MORE than 200 bags of litter have been picked up in one of Scotland’s most popular areas.

The latest figures from the National Trust for Scotland show an increase in visitor numbers to Glencoe compared with 2022.

The number of people heading to the Glencoe Visitor Centre has risen by around 35% while there has also been an 18% rise in the number of tents and a 10% rise in the number of campervans and motorhomes counted during evening patrols.

Although the National Trust has said that the vast majority of people appreciate the importance of taking care of the area, volunteers and staff have carried out over 200 hours of litter-picking this season and collected more than 200 bags of waste.

The National: Glencoe is one of Scotland's most popular areasGlencoe is one of Scotland's most popular areas

Scott McCombie, senior ranger for Glencoe National Nature Reserve said: “All of us at the National Trust for Scotland want to share our special places, ensuring they’re as accessible as possible in a way that is truly sustainable.

"We thoroughly enjoy meeting people from all walks of life when out and about in Glencoe and Glen Etive, and we engage with thousands of people a season to ensure they get maximum enjoyment out of their time with us and go away inspired to take extra care of their natural environment, leaving it as they found it or even better.

"The more time my team can spend on habitat conservation, instead of clearing up after others, the better for this incredible landscape and the people who live and work in it year-round.”

Building on its work to protect, care for and share Glencoe NNR, the ranger team is also keen to raise awareness of the ways in which everyone can ensure their behaviour doesn’t cause lasting damage to the special place they have come to visit nor to the local community.

The conservation organisation is calling for no campfires on the ground in the reserve after seeing a rise in the number of fire sites compared with last year, with several wildfires caused by careless campers earlier in the spring, and numerous examples of trees being damaged to provide a source of firewood.

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As well as spotting and dealing with campfires, preventing them escalating during this year’s dry spring and early summer, the team is working to educate the public on the impacts of campfires on Glencoe’s spectacular landscape.

“Campfires have a negative impact on both the glens’ peat-rich low-level soils and thinner, fragile upland soils", McCombie added. 

"This is not just at times of high fire risk, though it is even more unacceptable at these times.

"We ask that campers bring only camp stoves, or at least portable metal fire bowls or stands to keep fires off the bare earth, and do not light naked flames during dry spells.”

In the famous Hidden Valley, Coire Gabhail, the Trust has been saddened to see woodland renowned internationally for its rich mosses and lichens damaged by campers who have cut branches off trees in an attempt to fuel their campfires.

“This is not only bad for these precious habitats but it’s also pointless as live greenwood will not burn,” McCombie added.

Rangers at the Trust are also helping to educate visitors to Glencoe on the rules around cars and campervans driving off-road onto soft verges, peat-rich moorland and even river beaches.

Another critical element in the Trust’s mission to protect and share the National Nature Reserve, is its Ranger team’s ongoing work to clear up what visitors leave behind. Top of their list of finds is food packaging, disposable BBQs, used tissues, wet wipes and toilet sites.

McCombie said: “One of the least pleasant tasks our team faces – and this is certainly one that diverts us from conservation and habitat restoration – is clearing up toilet sites. There is no easy answer to toileting in the outdoors. 

"The advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is to bury it. However, at popular sites with thin soils and repeated use, this is not the best option.

"Many people choose the same spots at the edge of car parks and beside paths to relieve themselves and these areas can become a biohazard.

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"We ask visitors to consider our team members and the other visitors and dogs who may encounter the remnants of their toileting activities. If you love Glencoe and Glen Etive, you will understand that they deserve a little extra care.

"Here in Glencoe NNR, we’re lucky to have some incredible places on our doorstep and we want to make sure they’re there for future generations to enjoy – in a way that’s sustainable and beneficial for the local community."