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On a slippery slope...

I have been surprised to read that the much heralded camping provision in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, a camping provision to placate those who are understandably horrified and furious at the pitential consequences of new bylaws that will ban informal camping from a very large area of the Park, amounts to 300 camping places.

Sounds reasonable until you realize that in fact there will be only 30 camping places in the first year, at Loch Chon. Where, you might ask?

Loch Chon lies a few miles west of Aberfoyle, between Loch Ard and Stronachlachar. What use are camping places at Loch Chon to responsible West Highland Way walkers or Rob Roy Way walkers or those wanting to camp overnight before climbing one of the area’s mountains.

Why has the National Park chosen an out of the way place like this? Well possibly because they already have an arrangement with the Forestry Commission and it's an area used almost exclusively by fishermen. So little help to responsible backpackers, cycle campers or canoe campers.

And what of the other 270 promised places? Well, it turns out, they are not camping places at all but permits. So, through the back door, Scotland now has a permit system for camping put in place, something that should worry us all.

How soon will it be before this discredited National Park board decides that too many people are wearing down mountain footpaths, that too many people are sailing or canoeing on a particular stretch of river or loch or too many mountain bike tyres are wearing down forest trails? Their answer is likely to be – issue permits and reduce numbers.

Thanks to Dr Aileen McLeod’s one-sided decision yesterday we are now on the slippery slope to curbed access and a permit system of outdoor recreation in Scotland. Sad days and I’m sure John Muir will be lamenting in his grave.

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