Faeces, dog dirt and broken glass forces Arisaig youngsters to abandon beach walk

The remains of one of the numerous fires lit by people at Arisiag beaches on the May bank holiday weekend and which contributed to local nursery youngsters missing out on a walk. Photograph: Hope Blamire. NO F24 Arisaig beach fire
The remains of one of the numerous fires lit by people at Arisiag beaches on the May bank holiday weekend and which contributed to local nursery youngsters missing out on a walk. Photograph: Hope Blamire. NO F24 Arisaig beach fire

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Arisaig Nursery youngsters missed out on their regular walk on Traigh beach last week because it was covered in human excrement, dog poo and broken glass.

Nursery staff broke the news to disappointed children that their walk on Traigh beach would have to be cancelled.

Last week the Lochaber Times reported on the mayhem of the May bank holiday weekend when hundreds of visitors descended on the beaches at Arisaig and nearby Morar, with cars and campervans causing chaos, while the beaches were left littered with rubbish, waste, discarded barbecues and charred camp fire remains.

A Highland Council spokesperson told the Lochaber Times: ‘Following a risk assessment of Traigh beach and from information received from the newly-appointed seasonal access ranger, Arisaig Nursery relocated its regular outdoor learning trip to Arisaig Gardens due to the beach at Traigh having unsuitable levels of human excrement, dog waste and broken glass.

‘Our priority is to ensure as safe a learning environment as possible for all our staff and pupils and whilst we regularly use the outdoor environment to deliver learning, on this occasion unfortunately the beach couldn’t be used for health and safety reasons.

‘Part of the outdoor learning experience for young children is about exploring the surroundings and making use of the tactile environment, however, at certain times of the year this can be problematic due to the mess.

‘This is not the first time a beach trip has been relocated which is really disappointing, especially in better weather.

‘The Highland Council encourages people to make use of the public toilets in Arisaig Village, Traigh Beach, Morar Silver Sands Beach and Mallaig Village. Dog owners should bag and bin dog waste in the bins provided.’

Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson said: ‘It’s deeply disappointing but not surprising. Those who leave waste should be deeply ashamed of their behaviour. There is no excuse for it.

‘The council is spending an extra seven-figure sum on visitor management this summer, including ranger patrols and more waste collection in Arisaig. But still the message does not seem to be getting through to some beach users and it is creating a public health and safety risk as we’re seeing here.

‘This behaviour is also a risk to our tourism trade which depends on Scotland’s reputation for unspoilt nature. Media campaigns to encourage good behaviour are welcome but I think the police should be getting more involved now.

‘The local police force is doing a great job with the resources they have available, but they are overstretched. To effectively enforce the powers the police have, they need more boots on the ground across Lochaber.

‘I would go further: Highland Council and the Police working together should urgently consider byelaws to place restrictions on alcohol consumption and fire starting on the beaches.

‘I’ve raised this already with council officers and I know other councillors are pushing for the same. Many of the issues we are experiencing in Arisaig are due to what are basically beach parties. Those responsible need to be treated as such, not as wild campers which, in truth, many of them are not.’

CAPTION:

The remains of one of the numerous fires lit by people at Arisiag beaches on the May bank holiday weekend and which contributed to nursery youngsters missing out on a walk. Photograph: Hope Blamire.

NO F24 Arisaig beach fire