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Scotland UK travel

Highlands motorhome stopover pilot details revealed

The Highland Council has released details of a trial project which will allow campervans and motorhomes to stay overnight in a number of areas.

It’s hoped the plans will meet surging demand from visitors while protecting the environment.

Twelve overnight and short stay car parks across the region have been earmarked to take part in the summer and autumn development, among them Latheron Car Park in Ullapool; Gairloch Harbour Car Park and Little Gruinard Beach Car Park.

Designated areas in Inverness, Nairn, Caithness and Sutherland are also included in the trial scheme which aims to charge users for a self-contained overnight stay in their vehicle in allocated parking bays.

The council’s tourism committee members agreed to take a pragmatic approach to additional parking provision for motorhome visitors across the Highlands.

The goal is to allow motorhomes to occupy a designated bay in specific council car parks for a maximum stay period of 24 hours for a fee.

Highland motorhome stopover locations identified for the pilot:

- Torvean Car Park – Inverness
- Nairn Harbour – CG
- Dunnet Head Car Park, Caithness
- Dunnet Seadrift Car Park, Caithness
- Noss Head Car Park, Caithness
- Reiss Beach Car Park, Caithness,
- Riverside Car Park, Wick
- Durness Village – Tourist Info Car Park, Sutherland
- Golspie Shore Street Car ParkSutherland
- Ullapool Latheron Car Park, Wester Ross
- Gairloch Harbour Car Park , Wester Ross
- Little Gruinard Beach Car Park, Wester Ross

Executive chief officer for infrastructure, environment and economy, Malcolm MacLeod said: “The council recognises that ownership and rental of motorhomes/campervans has grown exponentially in the last three years and is an increasing trend as people look to enjoy ‘staycations’ and the freedom to explore the great outdoors.

“From the data captured by the Seasonal Access Rangers and Traffic Officers throughout the summer of 2021, it is evident that in certain ‘honeypot’ destinations in peak summer that demand for formal campsites can be outweighed by availability, also that there are many people that don’t choose to stay in a formal facility.

“The use of lay-bys for overnight parking, although not illegal, restricts access for more safety related use.

“It is hoped that by introducing legal use of designated council car parks for overnight stays that it could relieve some issues on the public road network.

“To mitigate some of the problems encountered with inconsiderate parking, waste and capacity problems in key locations, the council has considered all our coastal car parks and identified locations suitable to pilot a self-contained overnight stay, where people can park and stay overnight in the vehicle.

Motorhome stopover tariffs for an overnight short stopover in designated car parks are:

- £10 charge per night maximum stay 24 hours, no return within 72 hours.
- Overnight parking is classed as between 10pm and 8am.
- All activities must be contained within the vehicle.
- Overnight stopovers stay only valid with a ticket and only in allocated bays when provided.

“The aim is to provide for a single night stay only as a transit-type stopover.

“It is anticipated that as tourism infrastructure improvements continue across the country, people will learn what to expect when travelling in Scotland and the limitations for vehicle based holidays/travel, particularly in rural and popular tourist destinations.”

The overnight parking will be limited for up to 24 hours only, all activities must be contained within the vehicle – which means no awnings, tables, chairs, cooking outside the vehicle at any time.

Users will be told “to take care not to impact on the local environment and leave no trace”.

The council says the pilot will be closely monitored, and a report taken back to a future tourism committee.

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1 comment

G. Lazenby June 9, 2022 at 2:14 pm

This is a start and showing some pragmatism to what is a serious problem. I used to visit nearly every year for the past 40 years often cycling but I have stopped visiting now for the past 3 years and probably will not revisit. The reason to visit the Highlands has now, unfortunately, been destroyed. That reason is to seek out the wilderness and the peace and quite it offers and once off the roads this may still be possible. However, whoever set the hare running on this Scotland 550 road route has a lot to answer for as it has ruined what was a wonderful experience for those who sought it out under their own initiative and research. Now with everything laid out to follow it suddenly appeals to many who use it as a race track or groups touring in cars or motorcycles on roads and facilities unable to accommodate them and campervans apparently emptying waste in places they shouldn’t.
It is to be hoped that things will settle down in time but there does seem to be an obsession in promoting these type of routes which has the affect of funnelling people along pre-destined routes. I believe someone else with limited intellect has come out with the South West 660 Road Trip…just what is needed on the already congested narrow Devon and Cornwall roads!

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