Is the scourge of dirty camping finally being tackled in the Perthshire countryside?
At Loch Tummel, local businesswoman Jennifer Macintyre thinks so.
She describes the situation as “a lot better” than last year.
Inconsiderate campers leaving discarded tents, litter and other debris have always been a problem.
But things got much worse during lockdown.
Jennifer believes the restrictions on young people socialising drew crowds to the countryside.
“Last year we experienced a lot of the larger groups of younger individuals.
“I would probably say what I’m seeing now are more families and more responsible people camping.”
A coordinated approach has been taken to cleaning up Perthshire beauty spots.
Clearways have been enforced, preventing people from parking on grass verges and blocking narrow streets.
“Last year we had well over 200 cars parked along the road and associated campers. A lot of mess was left,” said Jennifer.
“There are still people parking in the clearway, but the numbers are down.”
Perth and Kinross Council has employed Visitor Rangers to bolster efforts to keep the countryside rubbish-free.
Jennifer said: “We’ve had regular police patrols, traffic wardens. And of course the new rangers as well as the volunteer fire service and the Greenspace Rangers as well. And the Forestry Commission, all doing regular patrols.
“They’re educating people and encouraging them to clear up after themselves.
“I’ve noticed it’s a lot cleaner.
“The rangers are obviously doing quite a bit of clearing up after people still, but it’s nowhere near what we experienced last year.
“The measures are working.”
So far, so good, but long term solutions needed
The issue is far from being resolved. Dirty campers will always find a way to exploit the countryside, leaving a trail of destruction behind.
Dirty campers are still abandoning campsites, and their rubbish, on the banks of the loch.
Jennifer said the community was working with PKC on long term solutions.
These could include designated parking spaces.
What is the situation at Loch Tay?
A few miles south, at Loch Tay, there are also signs that things are getting better, albeit slowly.
Aberfeldy-born businessman Stuart Brain said local countryside rangers had made a difference.
“There’s certainly an improvement on Loch Tay side,” he said.
However, Stuart said there were still dirty camping “hot-spots” where people ignored the no camping signs.
“People just ignore the yellow no camping sign, leave rubbish behind and are rather noisy,” he added.
“Police have been called.”
In addition, people are still parking in the designated clearways.
Stuart has called for more facilities to encourage people to use the countryside responsibly.
“There are no facilities, campsites or places for motor homes to dispose of waste in or to stay overnight.”
Perth and Kinross Council said its Visitor Rangers had built good relationships with local residents.
“They regularly patrol the main visitor ‘hotspot’ areas and respond to issues as and when required across their local patch,” said a council spokesperson.
The council is urging those planning a camping trip to familiarise themselves with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Members of the public can contact the rangers by emailing email@example.com.