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Anti-motorhome sentiment in Scottish Hebridean is driving away visitors

Luskentyre Cemetery parking near Luskentyre Beach

A motorhome owner has spoke out to say “we’re not all the same” after a petition sparked a social media frenzy with many blasting motorhome and campervan behaviour.

The petition, which asks “stop the parking of motorhomes and cars in designated cemetery parking spaces”, was launched by Lynne Mackay, a widow in Harris, Scottish Hebridean.

The main cemetery on the island is right beside Luskentyre Beach beauty spot, which appears regularly on lists of the best beaches throughout the world.

Mrs Mackay say she’s been unable to get near her husband’s grave during the summer months.

However, Sue Brown, from North Yorkshire, contacted The Press and Journal to let people know that not every who drives a motorhome is the same.

Having visited the island for more than 25 years with her partner, she says they may have had their last visit because they are starting to feel unwelcome.

Mrs Brown said: “A large number of owners use recognised sites, visit local attractions and spend money within the local community.

“In my case I would say we have made a positive contribution visiting Scotland for many years now and love being here.

“However, this anti motorhome sentiment is starting to make me feel unwelcome.

“I know there are examples of poor behaviour with regard to parking, dumping of waste, not spending money locally and so on.”

Meanwhile, another tourist took to social media to say she’s decided against visiting this summer, despite having already booked a ferry.

Related: Permit changes for caravans, campervans and motorhomes visiting Jersey

She said “gutted” to read about the problems tourists, motorhomes and campervans bring to the island.

She wrote: “I’ve watched this group closely over the last few days and have just cancelled all our arrangements. Reading some of the comments has actually been really upsetting and I don’t want to come anywhere I don’t feel welcome.

“Nor do I want to feel my presence creates a nuisance for locals.

“We’re still hiring our motorhome but will go somewhere else.

“Hopefully we’ll make it to your beautiful island another time.”

Mrs Mackay, who started the petition, said motorhome users are “more than welcome” in Harris and other islands.

She said: “All we ask is for a wee bit of respect for the cemetery car park.

“They should be booking into campsites, not parking in cemetery car parks.”

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Shaun Underwood June 22, 2023 at 7:06 pm

Well that’s a shame, we were planning g thos for next year. Have already mappes out our route and camps etc. We are in our 50’s and to be honest we won’t go where we are not welcome. Yes we do use a motorhome, only on the basis we can visit places and enjoy landmarks etc. As we are both retired then we do spend a lot of money in the local towns we visit. As we have not actually booked anywhere yet rhen we have changed our plans to stay somewhere we are welcome. We are now looking at going over to Ireland, totally out of the UK’s economy so, places like this just carry on and you will all lose visitors and in respect the revenues they bring to your areas.

Colin Hunter June 26, 2023 at 9:40 am

It is not YOU personally who are not welcome, any responsible and respectful person will find a hearty welcome anywhere. However, as you doubtless know, not everyone is blessed with those attributes, and there are many documented cases of what can be seen as lack of respect and consideration for other people. We have all seen the mess left behind by such people in the many posts that have been made on social media, and in some cases, the destruction is quite severe and breath taking, and you are left wondering how people can be so horrible. Unfortunately, as you are doubtless aware, the law abiding majority invariably get tarred with the same brush. I live in Shetland, and we have toured the North of Scotland with our caravan twice in 2017 and 18, before covid put the kybosh on such activities. We sold the caravan due to ill health on my part, (Not covid related) and haven’t been able to find another we like at a price we can afford. Both holidays were wonderful, but, like yourself, I am now reluctant to re visit what is now called the NC500, even though it was a great experience. Such is the level of discontent with “Over Tourism” now felt by many of the residents.
I was talking to two people in a Motorhome in the car park of our local Co-op one day, and they told me that they had been in the islands for a fortnight, and had not used ONE formal campsite in that time, preferring to “Wild” camp in Car parks like the Eshaness Lighthouse and Lund Graveyard in Unst., instead, and that all they had bought locally was Milk and bread as they had brought nearly all their supplies with them! They hadn’t even visited the National prize winning “Frankies” fish and chip/seafood restaurant! I was left wondering what they had done with their grey and black waste tanks, or what good their visit had done for the community.

David Jarman June 22, 2023 at 7:44 pm

I notice it says cars and motor homes.
So not solo blaming motor homes for taking cemetery spaces.

Sandra June 24, 2023 at 7:54 pm

The protest is about vehicles (cars and motorhomes) blocking cemetery car parks so that grieving relatives cannot visit their loved ones graves. It has nothing to do with not being welcome on the Isle of Harris and everything to do with expecting basic good manners. This would be relevant anywhere in the world, surely/

Matthew MacLeod June 25, 2023 at 5:29 am

These people always talk about how they spend money locally, as if residents of the Highlands and Islands should feel eternally grateful for such generosity. The communities have managed well enough for decades without this patronising. What they can’t afford is the repair bill for the damage to delicate flora and fauna, the clean up costs when visitors empty their toilet cassettes at the roadside or into watercourses and the maintenance of local facilities after misuse by visitors. Enforcement by the police is long overdue and the “entitled” should be taught a very harsh lesson for their intransigent and reckless behaviour.

Penny Spinks June 25, 2023 at 11:06 am

It is a two edge sword , I’m afraid everywhere you go you get the trouble makes who make it more of a problem than it really is. We do need and welcome visitors here n the islands . I have been warning about this hate campaign for sometime and it will put off the genuine camper of which we were too. It has put us off using our moto home on the island we live such is the hate for them here. However people do use our cafe and come to our museum and visit the Iron Age house all spending money and without this seasonal spend we will miss the income greatly . However our cemetery is on the beach too and this does cause problems. People must respect our spaces, so it will be the good campers we will put off not the bad campers who won’t care and many don’t care. As for wild camping there are plenty of old roads people can camp on with good views where people can park for the night without even being seen let alone disturbing others. My advice is to come to our islands but don’t park near cemeteries. You are welcome just respect local places . Bosta is a lovely place to be . Bernera is a welcoming community. Do come but don’t clog the way to the cemetery or park in the cemetery parking place, and don’t empty your waste down our loos as it is only going to fill up our sewerage facilities. Be respectful don’t spoil the beauty you have come to see!

Rob June 25, 2023 at 4:43 pm

Those saying “we won’t go where we’re not welcome” have entirely missed the point being made. It’s a specific group of motorhomers and campervanners this sentiment is aimed at. Inconsiderate dirty campers. Yes it’s a minority, but the sheer volume of them means it’s a significant minority. If you choose to park in school car parks, cemetery car parks, in-front of peoples houses, on private land, in peoples field access, use privately owned bins for your rubbish, and park/camp on protected SSSI then you deserve all the ire thats headed your way. If you then empty your tanks, toilet cassettes, or urinate/defecate where you wish, doubly so. The number of times I’ve been away in my van and witnessed people emptying their cassettes in public toilets that state not do so is worrying. This is why many public toilets end up being closed for the weeks/months at a time because they’re blocked/septic tanks full. It spoils it for others. People need to plan their trips accordingly and not just assume the locale will cater to their spontaneous needs. If you’re a considerate camper who plans ahead, and who doesn’t leave rubbish and effluent in your wake, then you’ll be welcomed as always. I’ve been a regular visitor to the Highlands and Islands in my vans for almost 30 years and I’ve never had any issues with local sentiment… probably for the simple fact I’m considerate and leave no trace. I can absolutely understand their frustration at a significant minorities entitled actions.

If this continues much longer then as a community we will find more rules and limitations being implemented to curtail the volume of irresponsible campers. Unfortunately that will also impact the responsible ones too.

ALI July 28, 2023 at 7:07 am

I’ve ben T5 van camping for years, but since Covid, the volume and size of vehicles has just got overwhelming. Convoys of 7m long, heavy vehicles on single track roads is actually causing damage. Harris is a prime example, where verges are being carved up and passing places deeply rutted. The Bealach na Ba in Applecross has also become some kind of ‘right of passage’, videos for YouTube. These roads were never designed for the sizes of vehicles. I feel for responsible campers, but seriously, many vehicles now are just too big.


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