Countryside rangers came across a “disco party” in the Angus Glens as visitors flocked to the great outdoors during the summer lockdown months.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) reported a surge in parking issues, littering, human waste and fires as large numbers of campers and hill-walkers flocked to the region in recent weeks.
Scots had been unable to travel further than five miles from their home due to the coronavirus pandemic until restrictions were lifted in early July.
A visitor management report which is due to go before the CNPA board on Friday, September 11 details engagement between rangers and members of the public in the wildlife haven, which stretches from the Highlands to Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and Angus.
It shows that there were between 20 and 30 tents being established at “hot spots” outwith established campsites in the Angus Glens and Atholl areas of the park every week between July 15 and August 24.
However it also noted that the overwhelming majority of visitors “behaved well” while visiting the Cairngorms.
Glen Doll and the Calvine & Struan area of Perthshire were identified as among the most popular places being visited.
Seasonal rangers recorded between five and 10 campfires being ignited at these sites every week.
Among the incidents of “irresponsible behaviour” detailed in the report is a “disco party with a marquee” which was discovered in Glen Doll along with abandoned tents, fires and human waste.
There were also reports of “social gatherings”, littering and fires in the Calvine and Struan area.
However there were significantly more issues in the Deeside, Badenoch and Strathspey areas.
Between 70 and 90 tents were being recorded every week at hotspots in the Aberdeenshire end of the park – and between 80 and 100 in the Highlands.
The CNPA interim report states: “During lockdown CNPA hired nine seasonal rangers to help manage visitors at evenings and weekends across the park and to supplement the existing ranger services in the park.
“This is a 36% increase in ranger coverage in the national park. Appointment was mid-June, followed by two weeks training with the team ‘on the ground’ by June 26, allowing great preparation for phase three opening on July 15.
“The support provided by seasonal rangers has proved very welcome across the park, they have been seen to be doing a great job and feedback has been very positive.”
It adds: “There has been a significant amount of people coming into the park over the summer.
“There have also been issues around camping, campervans, human waste, fires, litter
and verge parking. These have been especially prevalent at key hot spots.
“However, it should also be noted that the vast majority of visitors have behaved well, and that many of the issues around fires etc were done through ignorance rather than malice.
“Overall the approach this summer has been successful and the feedback from residents and visitors has on the whole been very good.
“There are two real exceptions to that. One was the failure to get the camping in the
forest site open at Glenmore. This caused extreme pressure on the area and it is
disappointing that this could not be rectified.
“The other is the lack of facilities to deal with the influx of campervans especially waste. This is something that we need to fix for next year.”
Glen Clova is also highlighted as a hot spot for parking issues along with Glenmore, the Muir of Dinnet, Linn of Dee, Glen Muick, and Glen Tanar.
The report also calls for “greater investment” in visitor infrastructure such as public toilers and car parking, and for the ranger service to be maintained.