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Thread: Maree, Loch

  1. #1

    Default Maree, Loch

    Loch Maree is a loch in Ross and Cromarty in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. At 20 kilometres long and with a maximum width of 4 kilometres, it is the fourth largest freshwater loch in Scotland. Its surface area is 28.6 square kilometres (11.0 square miles).

    Loch Maree contains five large wooded islands and over 25 smaller ones. Isle Maree has the remains of a chapel on it, believed to be the 7th Century hermitage of Saint Maol Rubha. The same island also contains ancient stands of oak and holly which have been linked with ancient Scottish druids. The waters of the loch were also thought to have curative effects, with being submerged in the water thought to be a cure for lunacy. All of the loch's islands are conservation areas.

    Like Loch Ness, Loch Maree has its own monster in the form of the muc-sheilch.

    Because of its remote location there is little industry and tourism surrounding Loch Maree, although it does offer good trout fishing

  2. #2
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    Default re loch maree

    i camp here often its a beutifull place, the islands look untouched,a real ,unspoiled place, one of my favourites,

  3. #3

    Default

    One of the first places i ever camped with my (then) new and shiny Old town Disco. I would recommend it to anyone. One of the true unspoilt places due to its remoreness. PS On the NE shore south of the guest house is a great camping spot with my estwing axe (if its still there) stuck in a large piece of drift wood - if you find it your welcome to it, lesson in checking around before leaving.
    It did'nt look to steep from the top, it did from the bottom...

  4. #4
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    Question Advice on sensitive areas

    In "Scottish Canoe Touring" paddlers are advised to call in at the Loch Maree Hotel to check on which areas of the loch (and particularly which of the islands) should be avoided due to special sensitivity, with the implication that this will change over time. I presume this is due to nesting birds and other seasonally changing circumstances.

    Unfortunately, it seem (see http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...389#post195389) that the Hotel has ceased trading.

    Does anyone have any knowledge of how prospective paddlers can now obtain the information to be "good wilderness citizens" before visiting?

    Thanks,
    Ben
    One year olds want four meals a day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Paper...
    Two year olds want whatever is most dangerous to get to... (Then to throw it on the floor.)

  5. #5
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    Worth calling the local SNH office . The number I think is 01445 760254.

    I understand that the Hotel is closed although you can still rent it for groups.
    Bandy

    CLICK THE LINK TO THE SCOTTISH CANOE TRIPS CHANNEL FOR VIDEOS OF MY TRIPS : http://www.youtube.com/user/bandy598



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    Default

    There's also contact info on the SCA website here

    Cheers,

    Alan
    Cheers,

    Alan


  7. #7
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    Default Update

    The SCA contact details in the above post are still valid as of today.
    Eoghain is happy to take calls on his mobile outwith office hours.
    If phoning it is advisable to have the relevant OS map in front of you as his "requests" can be quite specific and are tailored to the breeding/nesting/fledging activity of the birds at that time.

    Eoghain concedes that the "No Launching" sign at Slattadale is from pre Land Reform (Scotland) Act days, and is no longer enforceable/valid.

    The owner of the "Hotel", which is now booked out to groups only, is still OK with paddlers parking there when the building is not in use. (To get prior approval or book the Lodge, Nicks Mobile is 07871174600)
    However, he reckons that the Slattadale put-in is as good.
    You've been pushed before, push back with all your might - Jay Farrar

  8. #8

    Default Loch Maree 2009

    I have canoed in Loch Maree several times. I have been advised to ask permission at the Loch Maree Hotel to visit the islands but have never done so. The islands are managed by the Scottish National Heritage. There is one launching place at Slattadale which is excellent and another nearer Kinlochewe which is convenient for the head of the loch. Most of the islands are quite overgrown and walking on them difficult except for Isle Maree which has various historical features. I am going to be controversial here and say that I don't approve of wild life reserves like this. One of the islands has nest boxes nailed on to some trees! If the habitat requires a man made nest box then surely it is not suitable for the birds that the nest boxes are supposed to attract!
    See: http://website.lineone.net/~luichart...loch_maree.htm
    Harry

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    Default nest boxs

    Well im sure they,l get used by something,,, one time not to long age you couldnt visit some of the islands,,,,, as for permission -well i have never asked it, not through ignorance , more through a childish excitement to get onto the water,i have seen the hotel chap on his boat giving tours with his dog and he's always been fine so long as the fires are kept to the pebble beaches on the far side of the loch, i would advise anyone to check the weather though before venturing out onto the lake as im sure most of you do, ,,,, there has been a few fatalities in the loch, and as most of you guys know safety before fun,,,, and im sure youl enjoy the next trip,, Have you triel Loch Sionascaig, ? its another little gem, with lots of great camping areas, rough naturally, situated behind Stack polly, map 15, os. enjoy

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    Default Treasure Islands

    Its worth noting that the woodland on the islands of Loch Maree are of particular importance for Scots Pine and are registered seed sources. So stating the obvious - treasure them and take care of them.

    This is a quote from a Forestry Commission Publication

    "Scots pines grow from here to Siberia, but those adapted to Scotland can be classed as a separate variety. In particular the pines native to Wester Ross, in the neighbourhood of Loch Maree, are distinct from any others.
    The woodland that once grew over the greater part of Scotland now covers only a small fraction of the land. These remnants, fragmented
    and often vulnerable, have immense spiritual force. They are imbued with history and afford a glimpse of prehistory. As one authority has written of the ancient pinewoods, in words that have been much quoted, “To stand in them is to feel the past”.

    The full publication can be downloaded as PDF from here



  11. #11

    Default Loch Sionascraig

    Quote Originally Posted by skoper View Post
    Have you triel Loch Sionascaig, ? its another little gem, with lots of great camping areas, rough naturally, situated behind Stack polly, map 15, os. enjoy
    Hi Skoper, I have not tried Loch Sionascaig but it looks like my kind of place. I found it on OS sheet 13 but maps are so old that they may have change it. Where do you get access to the loch?
    Harry

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by drifter View Post
    Hi Skoper, I have not tried Loch Sionascaig but it looks like my kind of place. I found it on OS sheet 13 but maps are so old that they may have change it. Where do you get access to the loch?
    Harry
    Access to Loch Sionscaig is usually either from Boat Bay at the western end, accessed form the wee windy road between Coigach and Lochinver, or by portaging across the wilds from Loch Veyatie or Fionn Loch accessed from Elphin.

    Check out the various blogs of Loch Veyatie trips to see the area.


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    Default Ducks and Divers

    Hi, this is my first post on the site--thanks to everyone for the useful information and wonderful blogs.

    The request to avoid the islands is, I think, about nesting Divers--Red throated and Black throated. They nest at the edge of freshwater lochs and are vulnerable to disturbance when sitting on eggs. They're endangered (180 breeding pairs of blackthroats in Scotland) and protected--I don't know any paddlers who would want to disturb nesting birds but it's easy to do without realising it..
    Loch Maree had a reputation for hostile landownermany years ago. This is different--it does seem to be a valid reason to check first and avoid the islands for a few weeks a year.
    The nest-boxes on the islands in Loch Maree will be for Goldeneye duck--they nest in holes in tree-trunks, near water. They need old trees with suitable holes. Most of these have been felled by man. Apart from that, the habitat is great for them, so replacing the nest-holes with nest-boxes seems OK ?

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ol'woodpusher View Post
    Hi, this is my first post on the site--thanks to everyone for the useful information and wonderful blogs.

    The request to avoid the islands is, I think, about nesting Divers--Red throated and Black throated. They nest at the edge of freshwater lochs and are vulnerable to disturbance when sitting on eggs. They're endangered (180 breeding pairs of blackthroats in Scotland) and protected--I don't know any paddlers who would want to disturb nesting birds but it's easy to do without realising it..
    Loch Maree had a reputation for hostile landownermany years ago. This is different--it does seem to be a valid reason to check first and avoid the islands for a few weeks a year.
    The nest-boxes on the islands in Loch Maree will be for Goldeneye duck--they nest in holes in tree-trunks, near water. They need old trees with suitable holes. Most of these have been felled by man. Apart from that, the habitat is great for them, so replacing the nest-holes with nest-boxes seems OK ?
    I have a lot of problems with this. As far as I know there has been no tree cutting on these islands for some time. The islands contain many old trees but not many big trees (or big old trees) probably because of the lack of nutriment (these trees are almost growing in water) There probably never has been or never will be any suitable natural nesting places for these birds on the islands. It seems to me that you can't have a nature reserve when the habitat is not "natural"!
    There are probably diver nests on the islands and I am sure that no-one would knowingly wish them any harm but why not just put a notice up during the nesting time to warn people of their existence? You fail to say exactly which weeks in the year that the islands should be avoided.
    I am not sure who owns the islands but my OS map seems to indicate that one is owned by the forestry commission and the rest by SNH. It seems to me that if the owners are keen to control access to the islands they could provide leaflets at the two launching sites and a notice about times for visiting the islands. I am not sure if you can blame the estates for this although, generally speaking, I have absolutely no sympathy with estate owners.
    Having said all this I am not sure if anyone could legally stop you visiting the islands at any time if you so wished.
    Harry

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    Quote Originally Posted by drifter View Post
    ... I am not sure if anyone could legally stop you visiting the islands at any time if you so wished.
    Harry
    You are right about that.
    However certain birds, including Black-throated diver and Goldeneye, have special protection under the law and to quote SNH
    It is a crime to:

    • disturb any specially protected bird while it is building its nest;
    • disturb any specially protected bird while it is in or near a nest containing eggs or young;
    • disturb the young of any of these birds before they are wholly independent.
    If the islands are/or were privately owned then the owners have a responsibility under the Nature Reserve management agreement to protect them.This is why there is/has been a lot of sensitivity about the islands use.

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    Does anyone know when these feathered beasties are nesting? I want to go to Loch Maree and have a good look around, so I'll try and avoid this time.

    Cheers, Michael.
    Cheers, Michael.


    Brute Force and Ignorance is Vastly Underrated.

    "There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace."
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    Quote Originally Posted by drifter View Post
    As far as I know there has been no tree cutting on these islands for some time. The islands contain many old trees but not many big trees (or big old trees) probably because of the lack of nutriment (these trees are almost growing in water) There probably never has been or never will be any suitable natural nesting places for these birds on the islands. It seems to me that you can't have a nature reserve when the habitat is not "natural"!
    I guess it depend what you mean by natural
    The shores of the loch are far from natural, look at the lack of trees and the amount of grazing and burning that has gone on here over the previous few hundred years, the habitats that many birds evolved to use is no longer availible. No big trees, nutrients leeched out etc. The islands are more 'natural' in that they haven't had quite the same pressures for a while. I'm not a big fan of boxes either mind you.

    However, If we follow the logic that we only value or protect the wholly natural (by inferance nothing with Human inflluence) then we don't protect anything and every other species on Earth can take its chances against our technology and fashion of the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Cumbrian. View Post
    Does anyone know when these feathered beasties are nesting? I want to go to Loch Maree and have a good look around, so I'll try and avoid this time.

    Cheers, Michael.
    I'm not that good on birds, but probably nesting from the second week in May until the last week of June.
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  18. #18

    Default disturbing birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Quercus View Post
    Yto quote SNH
    It is a crime to:

    • disturb any specially protected bird while it is building its nest;
    • disturb any specially protected bird while it is in or near a nest containing eggs or young;
    • disturb the young of any of these birds before they are wholly independent.
    If that were law then you could not go anywhere in case you disturbed these specially protected birds!
    I think if SNH or anyone else wants to protect these birds then they must notify the public where and when the birds are vulnerable.

    Perhaps it should read "Knowingly" disturb......

  19. #19

    Default breeding season for red thoated diver

    Quote Originally Posted by The Cumbrian. View Post
    Does anyone know when these feathered beasties are nesting? I want to go to Loch Maree and have a good look around, so I'll try and avoid this time.

    Cheers, Michael.
    The breeding season for the red throated diver is between April and September!

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    Well as I said...
    Quote Originally Posted by Silvergirl View Post
    I'm not that good on birds
    Quote Originally Posted by drifter View Post
    The breeding season for the red throated diver is between April and September!
    Earliest ever recorded nest was 12 March

    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  21. #21

    Default SNH and Loch Maree Islands

    Following on from the discussion about access etc on Loch Maree I sent an e-mail to Scottish National Heritage asking various questions about the islands. SNH were the major people involved with drawing up the Scottish Access Code. I sent my message on 12th November and until yesterday had not received any reply which I thought strange since I would have thought that interpreting the access code would have been easy for them! I sent another e-mail yesterday and this one got an immediate reply in which I was asked to meet with the Manager responsible for the Islands. I will be arranging a meeting soon and will keep you all informed about the results. If any of you have a question that you would like to put to the SNH then please let me know.
    Harry

  22. #22

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    May I suggest that when you do meet him, that you are not as aggressive in your stance as you seem to be here.

  23. #23

    Default Restrictions on Loch Maree Islands and SNH

    Am I being too aggressive? I have always believed that we have a right to roam in Scotland and the new access code sort of confirms that right. As far as I am aware there are no published restrictions or local notices on visiting the islands and I don't think there is any obligation for the visitor to make inquiries. I am going to a meeting in Strathpeffer with the SNH tonight which is being held in the community hall between 6pm and 8pm and I have a meeting with the the Loch Maree reserve manager on 1st Dec here at Lochluichart. The meeting at Strathpeffer is public and anyone can attend. The meeting at Lochluichart is at my house but If anyone wished to come along then I think that would be OK.
    Harry

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    Quote Originally Posted by drifter View Post
    As far as I am aware there are no published restrictions or local notices on visiting the islands and I don't think there is any obligation for the visitor to make inquiries.
    This does highlight some of the grey areas with regard to "responsible access".

    There may well be no published restrictions but the law that makes disturbance to particular species a criminal offence would imply an obligation on someone wishing to have access to an area designated as a nature reserve.
    Exercising the access "responsibly" may well involve making inquiries.

    If access is not being made responsibly in regard to these islands and birds then it may be that restrictions will be introduced. I have no doubt that SNH will be monitoring things.

    Feedback from your visits will be very interesting.

  25. #25

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    Disturbing protected species is not a crime. INTENTIONALLY disturbing them may be.

    http://www.snh.org.uk/wildlifecrimes...ld%20Birds.pdf

    A subtle, but important distinction.

    It'll be interesting to hear the outcomes of Harry's meetings.

  26. #26

    Default first meeting with SNH

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike__B View Post
    Disturbing protected species is not a crime. INTENTIONALLY disturbing them may be.

    http://www.snh.org.uk/wildlifecrimes...ld%20Birds.pdf

    A subtle, but important distinction.

    It'll be interesting to hear the outcomes of Harry's meetings.
    I went along to a general meeting with the SNH people which was held in Strathpeffer on Tuesday night. What Mike has said is correct (or almost correct!). It is not a crime to disturb wildlife, which you might do accidentally, but if you have disturbed it then you must back off and go somewhere else. To continue to disturb it would be wrong. The animals to which this applies are listed as protected species. It is important therefor to know what these animals look like and be able to identify them correctly.
    With regard to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code you can paddle in virtually any Scottish river or loch as long as you behave responsibly. I think you can get a copy of the Access Code free from SNH. Google for their website. My meeting specifically about Loch Maree is in December and I will report the outcome afterwards but it would appear that the islands in Loch Maree, although a nature reserve, still have access at any time of year. You are within your rights to visit, or even camp, on the islands at any time provided you do so responsibly and without disturbing the rare wildlife.
    Having said all this I would not like to see dozens of canoes going to these islands as they are quite a special place and probably vulnerable to disturbance. I was driving along the road yesterday behind 3 cars with a total of 8 canoes on their roofs. Canoeists sometimes seem a bit like bikers going around in large groups. I don't think Loch Maree is a place for large groups of people.
    Harry

  27. #27

    Default

    One of the very real challenges is in understanding when it is responsible to exercise your right of access.

    In some respects, it really is easier in places like the Farnes where a warden will pitch up and throw you off most of the islands because they are busy protecting the birds / seals / rare lesser spotted bog wortle or 9 toed newt.

    Conversely, the likes of Scottish National Heritage now have to accept that we may pitch up on Rhum and pitch a tent, wheras in the past they banned it to give the deer priority.

    As with everything, there is always a negative, and the destruction being wraught by the feckless on part of Loch Lomond side is ample evidence of that. I'm very pleased to see the the Park wardens are now clampiong down on that - but fear that my ability to wild camp responsibly may be impacted as a result.

    The key is education, not legislation, and I'm not 100% convinced that finding the knowledge I need to be able to educate myself to make a valid, informed and responsible judgement is always as easy as I would like it to be.

    I'll be very interested in hearing the outcome of your December meeting re Maree, notably so as a friend was verbally abused for daring to land on an island in Loch Ken some time ago - the self important jobsworth who chose to do so having perhaps taken some of his "responsibilities" as a warden to a slight extreme.

    Which in turn brings us to the other nae-sayers who like to try and stop people doing things, when in reality they would be better placed helping us to understand. We, as outdoor people, need to be wary of them and not take too much notice - sometimes.

    From a personal perspective, the open access rights we have here in Scotland are a very real privilage.

    Thanks for the feedback. Mike.

  28. #28

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    I think the Scottish outdoor access code came into being in 2003 and I think it is one of the best things that has happened in Scotland for a long time. Perhaps the public should be made more aware of the freedom that it offers the outdoor person. There are a number of exceptions to the code and some existing criminal offences which can apply which are listed in the booklet published by SNH and available from there Perth Office. (Scottish Natural Heritage, Publication Section, Battleby, Redgorton, Perth. PH1 3EW. e-mail: pubs@snh.gov.uk) I am not sure what to make of this meeting on Monday. All I asked was to clarify the access situation on the Loch Maree Islands and I questioned the wisdom of erecting nest boxes. Why this should require a meeting with two SNH representatives is very puzzling but I suppose it will all become clear on Monday. Harry

  29. #29

    Default SNH and Loch Maree Islands

    The main problem with access to the islands on Loch Maree is the presence of Black Throated Divers although there are also sea eagles and crossbills. You can find out about protected species at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/netregs/63007.aspx
    The black throated divers nest very close to the water and are quite vulnerable to disturbance between the 3rd week in April until the end of June but can still nest as late as mid August and it is an offense to knowing disturb them. There are generally a number of these birds nesting on the islands. The best source of information regarding these nesting areas etc is from SNH itself and specifically by telephoning Eoghain Maclean, on 01445760254 between 8.30 am and 5pm or out with these times on 07900226132, who runs the SNH local, Kinlochewe, office. He will tell you the specific areas of the islands which you should avoid.
    Obviously no-one wants to disturb these birds and finding out exactly where they are nesting will allow you to visit the rest of the islands without causing any harm.
    There will be a public meeting in the near future to discuss the management of the Loch Maree Islands. The nest boxes were put up a long time ago for Goldeneye ducks but have never been used by these birds. The nest boxes have been used by owls in recent years. There are also "rafts" which have been made for the Black throated divers as these bird are vulnerable to have their nest flooded. There are a few red deer on the islands and SNH will cull these if their numbers become excessive but it is thought that there are only a couple. There are also pinemartins on the islands who are responsible for taking some of the Black throated diver's eggs!
    To sum up. The Scottish outdoor access code give you the right to visit the Loch Maree islands at any time but you have to avoid disturbing the protected species on the islands. It is quite important, if you intend to visit this area, that you can recognize the birds concerned.

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  31. #31

    Default Loch Maree

    We've just paddled on Loch Maree (Sept 2010) and called in at the Beinn Eighe visitors centre near Kinlochewe to check the current situation with the nesting birds and whether there were any areas we should avoid etc - the guy in there was really helpful.

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    I was on lock Maree a few weeks ago i couldn't help noticing signs of camping on the islands As I am new to canoing but come from a Backpacking fellrunning background ,Im a bit puzzled, Is it the acceptable to leave evidence that you have been there ? certainly not while backpacking, just footprints

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    I was there just before Easter. I only landed on one island (and was weather bound for three days) and although I could see where people had previously camped, in my exploration of the isle found very little rubbish: a long length of kite line, a couple of bottle tops and a hat with mozzi net. I was not impressed by the big hole where a monster fire had been and assorted half burnt logs near by at one site.

    Sam

  34. #34

    Default

    1 of these islands has a lochan on it, with an island in it = Loch Maree, with an island on it, with a lochan on it, with an island on it, with a lochan in it.
    Innit.
    You can see by eg the name "Furnace" that in times past, there was MUCH forest-based industry, as well as a tremendous sea-trout leisure industry.

  35. #35

    Default

    I agree, we should leave no signs - it's the wild camping/country code
    "lock" = LOCH Maree...

  36. #36

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    There should be no evidence left when you visit anywhere whither it be on an island on Loch Maree or a street in the middle of Glasgow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monkeynut View Post
    I was on lock Maree a few weeks ago i couldn't help noticing signs of camping on the islands As I am new to canoing but come from a Backpacking fellrunning background ,Im a bit puzzled, Is it the acceptable to leave evidence that you have been there ? certainly not while backpacking, just footprints
    Absolutely not acceptable to leave any evidence of camping. However, if there is a pre-standing fire pit in an appropriate place, and conditions mean a fire is responsible (probably using brought in wood), I might well use it. When I left, the site would be cleaner than before. Unfortunately, even on some of the more remote lochs, there are people (boaters, fishermen, some canoeists sadly (but hopefully not many!) ) who don't seem to care.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by nic a char View Post
    I agree, we should leave no signs - it's the wild camping/country code
    "lock" = LOCH Maree...
    damn spell-checker !

  39. #39

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    Grumpy old man alert - I often remove "pre-standing fire pits", irrespective of whether they are in an appropriate place or not. I just can't see why it's acceptable to desecrate the wilderness with that sort of thing. OK, so it'll keep the mess in one spot. But why should there be any mess in the first place? If people can't make a fire without leaving trace then they shouldn't make one.

  40. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike__B View Post
    Grumpy old man alert - I often remove "pre-standing fire pits", irrespective of whether they are in an appropriate place or not. I just can't see why it's acceptable to desecrate the wilderness with that sort of thing. OK, so it'll keep the mess in one spot. But why should there be any mess in the first place? If people can't make a fire without leaving trace then they shouldn't make one.
    Agreed - though not grumpy - environmentally aware

  41. #41

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    damn spell-checker ! =

  42. #42
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    If anyone needs to know which islands to avoid so as not to disturb the nesting Black Throated Divers the contact is:

    Douglas Bartholomew


    Reserve Manager Beinn Eighe

    Mobile: 07796996010
    Office: 01445760254

    Doug.Bartholomew@snh.gov.uk

    I have a pdf of this year's nest islands but unfortunately cannot post it here!
    There's a Bluebird in my heart

  43. #43
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    Good info, thanks.

    I contacted the SNH local office before our Easter trip, and had a nice reply from a Peter Duncan thanking me for bothering and telling me there had been no sitings yet (end March). Good to know they're back.

    We saw a pair of distant birds that looked and behaved like divers, but couldn't be sure, and we heard no calls.

  44. #44

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkeynut View Post
    damn spell-checker !
    No, simply correct nomenclature - like "sitings" SIC = sightings...

  45. #45

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    "The key is education, not legislation"
    IMHO there are 2 keys:
    1. long-term = education
    2. short-term = legislation - because, sadly, there are a few you can do nothing with.
    And I really don't see why keeping certain littered and noisy hot-spots clear of camping is a problem - wild campers wouldn't want to be there anyway!
    Equally, I don't understand Cameron McNeish on this - why SHOULD the Scottish Parliament/Executive make special arrangements to meet him, AND accept his views - with (allegedly) the views of ONE policeman?

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