Last week, following Rob Edwards’ article and my coverage of the collapse of the camping byelaws (see here) I was asked to do an interview for BBC Alba news. Quite a privilege since I speak not a word of Gaelic, although I have a passing knowledge of Gaelic place names. It should appear sometime after 8pm on Monday (sorry I will not be able to give the link because I will be out the country).
I showed the reporter, Iain MacDiarmaid, three of the camping zones at Firkin Point. Iain had camped before and there was no need for me to try putting my tent up on the pebbly beach called Zone C. A lovely Asian family who visit here quite often then came up to us and within two minutes had said the beach is often underwater. Great place to picnic though!
There was a tent pitched at the top of Zone B, so I asked the people who were sitting at the top bench if it was their tent and whether they had a permit I could not have hoped for a better response. The man said this was the only campable pitch at Firkin but was sloping and pointed to the boggy ground at the entrance of his tent. He then said if you think the Zone C beach is bad, try camping at Zone D before explaining how he was from Balloch and all this National Park was intent on doing was stopping local people from doing things they had always enjoyed in the places they wanted. Unfortunately, he declined to appear on camera – it would have made a far better interview than anything I have done but he did make my job a lot lot easier.
There are some lessons here I think for the Park Board. If they got out and talked to real people, the people who love the area and whose idea of happiness is to be enjoying the lochside, whether in the tent or having a picnic, they would soon realise that there was something very very wrong with the Board Report at the last meeting which said 85% of people would recommend camping in a permit area. It simply doesn’t fit with what people are saying. What’s more if they just went and took a look for themselves they would realise much of the spin which is being issued on their behalf couldn’t be true either.