Yesterday (14th April) the First Minister announced an accelerated easing of lockdown restrictions. From this Friday (16th April) groups of up to 6 people from 6 households will be able to meet outside. Travel will also be permitted anywhere in Scotland for the purpose of outdoor socialising, recreation or exercise. More information on the updates are available on the Scottish Government website.
These changes signal the fantastic progress of the vaccination programme and effort to control the spread of COVID-19 and will be welcome news to many people who have not been able to meet with friends of family over the last few months.
Once these changes come into effect we expect to see a much larger volume of people returning to enjoy day trips to the National Park so we have been busy working with our partners to prepare to welcome visitors back to the area. Here is an update on our plans for this weekend and beyond.
Our visitor facilities
National Park Authority car parks and toilets all remain open with the exception of Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway. More information on the facilities available at both sites we manage and those managed by other partners can be found on our website.
Ahead of this weekend we are looking to install additional temporary toilets in key locations including at Luss, Balmaha and Rowardennan to provide extra capacity in anticipation of more people once again being able to visit the area.
Following yesterday’s announcement and the publication of further guidance, we have been considering what this means for our plans to reopen our remaining visitor facilities.
Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway
Following yesterday’s announcement, we’ve looked at our plans to see if we could open before the planned date of 26th April. We can now confirm that the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch will reopen slightly earlier than anticipated on Friday 23rd April.
We appreciate that many Loch users will be keen to get back out on the water however, the Slipway is our most complex site to manage in line with current COVID-19 guidance. We will be using this next week to finish our preparations to welcome everyone back to the site safely. This will include new signage being installed on site, a re-fit of the office area to ensure that Loch users and staff are able to communicate safely in the office space, and completing the final stages of training for seasonal staff to manage the Slipway safely, within the COVID-19 guidance.
When the Slipway reopens, it will operate largely as it did last summer with appropriate COVID-19 protection measures in place. More information on this is available on our website.
Campsites and camping permit areas
Despite being able to travel further afield for day trips from this weekend, overnight stays outwith your local authority area are still not permitted. For this reason our campsites at Loch Chon and Loch Achray and the camping permit areas will remain closed until the expected easing of this measure on Monday 26th April. Camping bookings for beyond this date opened on our website this week and are available up to four weeks in advance.
Wild camping locally is also still discouraged during this time and we are asking visitors to wait to camp for just a short while longer.
Camping byelaws are in effect in Camping Management Zones and are being enforced where appropriate by our Ranger teams and Police Scotland.
More information on what is permitted in Level 4 restrictions can be found on the Scottish Government guidance on local protection levels.
Helping visitors to enjoy the National Park responsibly
This month we have been joined by our full complement of seasonal staff to help us to welcome visitors to the area. For 2021, this includes an increased number of seasonal rangers, campsite staff and environment officers.
Many of our seasonal recruits have been joining our teams on patrol over the past few weekends and will continue to be deployed throughout the season to support and encourage visitors to enjoy the National Park safely and responsibly.
Information and engagement
Ahead of this weekend we will be using our digital channels to encourage anyone considering a visit to the National Park to do so safely and responsibly in line with the current guidance. We are also planning a number of media appearances on radio, TV and online over the next few days to help reiterate these important messages.
We will be tapping into national messaging to encourage everyone to #RespectProtectEnjoy the outdoors, with our key message to visitors emphasising the need to plan ahead as not all facilities and businesses will be open or operating as usual. This includes remembering to ‘go’ before they go, bring everything they need for their visit with them (including bags to take litter or waste home), and having alternative options in mind for their visit should their chosen destination be busy. We will also be highlighting practical information to help visitors plan their trip, such as the location and status of facilities like car parks and toilets.
One of the significant visitor management challenges we faced last year was the increase in traffic and parking related pressures seen in various areas of the National Park. For this year we have been working with our partners on the National Park Safe Recovery Action Group (inlcuding the four local authorities within the National Park, Police Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland and Transport Scotland) to put in place or make permanent a number of measures to help ease these pressures, including clearways or parking restrictions outlined on the map below (click here to expand).
Local authority enforcement staff have been working with Police Scotland to enforce these measures over the past few weeks and will continue to do so throughout the season.
Since the beginning of April we have also been running our online service to provide updates on the status of car parks around the National Park at peak times and weekends, so that visitors can make an informed decision about where to go to avoid crowds and find suitable parking.
A trial is planned for later this season to expand this service by piloting the use of digital sensors in busy car parks within in the Stirling Council area, however for now this service is based on intelligence provided by National Park volunteers and staff on the ground.
As we anticipate larger numbers of visitors to the National Park from this weekend, we would welcome any information from communities, businesses and visitors to help us provide accurate updates on parking capacity on our website. If you spot any car parks at weekends that are looking full or still have capacity then please let us know by emailing email@example.com or by messaging us on our social media channels. We’re @lomondtrossachs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Both the National Park Authority and our partners are committing additional resources to help manage litter and waste across the National Park this year. For example, three Environment Officers have joined our in-house team to increase litter services at sites that we own or manage, and we have doubled the uplift of our bins at our sites on West Loch Lomond. Next week staff from both the National Park Authority and Argyll & Bute Council will also be out to deep clean verges and laybys along the A82 on Loch Lomondside. We’re all committed to keeping this special part of Scotland clean and whilst we are ramping up our efforts for this year, we need everyone who loves the National Park to play their part too. Our clear message is that everyone should take responsibility for their litter and waste – simply by taking it home to recycle or binning it where bins are available.
Through promotion of our litter activity we also want to thank all of the businesses, communities and individuals in the National Park who are our Litter Heroes – those people who go the extra mile to protect the Park by picking up other people’s litter. We want to celebrate your efforts by championing your work on social media and providing positive examples of responsible behaviour, from a range of different voices from all across the National Park.
We’ve learnt from previous campaigns that appealing to people’s sense of social identity and positively reinforcing the right behaviour for the area has a strong impact in reducing litter on the ground. If you are taking positive action to keep the National Park litter free, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or tag @lomondtrossachs in images of your work on social media so that we can share your story and encourage everyone else to do the same.
Contacts and support
As more people will once again be able to enjoy a visit to the National Park we recognise that a surge in visitors, while very welcome for the tourist economy when it opens up and for the wellbeing of people who’ve been limited in where they can travel, can create other pressures for those that live and work here.
Last month we sent an information pack to all key stakeholders including details of plans by the National Park Safe Recovery Action Group to help manage these pressures, along with more information on who to contact should you need to report any problems on the ground. Here is more information on the relevant contact details:
Feedback: Communities and stakeholders can provide information on visitor pressures being experienced or with ideas that could help by emailing email@example.com. The information you provide will be used to help us plan and adapt our response to visitor management throughout the season, so please be specific about where and what the pressure is so we consider this as we adapt our plans throughout the season. Please note that the feedback inbox should not be used to report emergencies or to lodge a complaint.
Criminal, anti-social or dangerous behaviour: This should be reported to Police Scotland by calling 101 or in an emergency dial 999 – when a life is in danger, a crime is in progress or a suspect is nearby. Please do report these behaviours and incidents to Police Scotland so that they can be recorded.
Litter and flytipping: Litter and flytipping on public land should be reported to the relevant Local Authority using the following links:
If you are not sure if the area is local authority land please report flytipping to Dumb Dumpers at Dumb Dumpers – Report flytipping | Zero Waste Scotland
Irresponsible or dangerous parking: This should be reported to the relevant local authority or if the parking is dangerous and causing an obstruction to Police Scotland on 101.
Irresponsible camping/toileting and access issues: Contact the National Park Authority on 01389 722600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dangerous or wild fires: Report these to Scottish Fire and Rescue by dialling 999.
- Feedback email address
- Scottish Government latest on Coronavirus
- NHS Inform’s latest on Coronavirus
- National Park Authority Coronavirus hub
- Argyll & Bute Council Coronavirus information
- Perth & Kinross Council Coronavirus information
- Stirling Council Coronavirus information
- West Dunbartonshire Council Coronavirus information
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