Loch morar restrictions

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Phizz4
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Loch morar restrictions

Post by Phizz4 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:50 am

Four of us recently did the Morar round trip, via the portage over to Loch Nevis, Inverie, Mallaig and back to Morar. We used the Scottish Canoe Classics guide but, as we did the trip in sea kayaks, I have posted here. The recommended put-in at the pier has no parking so we went further along the Loch to the second pier where, according to my OS map, there is a public car park. Said car park was roped off and signs indicated that it was for use by fishing parties. However, we found enough space to park the car and the trailer a little further on. In several places along the road by the side of the loch there are signs saying no wild camping is allowed along Loch Morar. This does not tally with the advice in the guide book. Is this a recent development and how does this fit with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code? As it happened with our timing (very late arrival in the area due to closure of the A82 near Tarbet) we set out next morning and portaged over to Loch Nevis before looking for a wild camp, so did not need to camp on Loch Morar.

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lg18
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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by lg18 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:40 am

Phizz4 wrote: In several places along the road by the side of the loch there are signs saying no wild camping is allowed along Loch Morar. This does not tally with the advice in the guide book. Is this a recent development and how does this fit with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code?
See this on the Loch Morar fishing website - they say "no fires or camping on the lochside".

http://www.lochmorar.org.uk/fishing/rul ... gulations/

This is worrying and no it doesn't fit with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which allows wild camping for small groups for short lengths of time anywhere away from habitation within reason, plus allows carefully controlled fires.

On Wild Camping The Access Code says:

"Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply, but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner's permission.
Leave no trace by:

taking away all your litter
removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance for lighting fires)
not causing any pollution.

Seasonal camping restrictions and byelaws:
Byelaws restrict camping on the east side of Loch Lomond from the 1 March to the end of October. These byelaws make it an offence to camp or sleep outdoors or in a vehicle overnight on the east side of Loch Lomond outside designated camping sites
."

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/P ... ic/camping

On lighting fires the Access Code says, "The lighting of a fire is allowed as part of the exercise of access rights, if it is done responsibly"

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/s ... e_2007.pdf

Might be worth checking this Morar development with the local Access Officer?

Lucy

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MikeB
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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by MikeB » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:57 pm

This isn't on. Report it to the local Access |Officer as per Lucy's suggestion. http://www.highland.gov.uk/info/1457/to ... e_access/4

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Jun 14, 2016 1:33 pm

We did the round of Nevis/Morar in the winter and left the cars by the sea at the sands of Morar then portaged back down the road from Loch Morar to the sea.

There are two issues here, the sign claiming restricted camping rights which as Mike says needs to be reported to the access officer.

The second issue is whether the car park is public or not. Just because the OS put a P on the map does not mean it is public. I can think of several places where the P refers to private parking eg the one at Lachlan Bay on Loch Fyne which belongs to the adjacent restaurant. My wife parked at the slipway car park on Loch Morar in the winter with no problems and there were no signs then but I don't know who actually owns the car park. Again it might be a question for the access officer.

It is a great trip :o)

Douglas

PS guide books go out of date. The same book might not have been edited yet to mention the Loch Lomond bye laws.

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Jim » Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:15 pm

Unfortunately your right to responsible access does not mean that landowners or lessees can't put up misinformative signs telling that no right exists :(, so you need to be familiar with the code and prepared to enter a debate if required. In my experience as soon as you explain that you are familiar with the code the chancers back down, they don't actually want to go down legal routes they can't win, but if they can put off a few people (especially tourists from places like England where many people are used to following such instructions) they are usually OK about letting the rest through, although they will grumble.

Do remember that the land reform act has nothing to do with access by motor vehicle of any kind, it is only good for human/animal/wind powered access so privatly owned roads can be closed to non-authorised motor vehicles, whilst remaining open to cyclists and portage trolleys. There may be some stuff in the Road Traffic Act that would help you if the car park is a layby adjacent to an adopted highway, but if it has been privately maintained (legally) I doubt it.

Always remember that anything marked in blue on an OS map, is not guaranteed to be in the location marked, or even there at all.
This applies to Parking places, pubs, ancient monuments, slipways and all sorts of other touristy things, it also applies to rivers (which can change course during floods) and the sea, which is almost constantly moving it's position relative to land features, although maps do usually have a pretty good indication of the range of movement to expect from the sea..... Anyway, never take a bearing from a blue touristy symbol on the map!

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Chris Bolton » Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:08 pm

The website says (my underlining)
The following rules must be observed when fishing on Loch Morar
There's no right to fish in the Land Reform Act, so if the landowner is issuing permits to fish, these can include any conditions they wish. I suspect there's no point raising it with the Access Officer, other than for information. If challenged, I would just point out that I'm not fishing.
anything marked in blue on an OS map, is not guaranteed to be in the location marked, or even there at all
I will take extra care on Motorways, in the light of this...!

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by MikeK » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:00 am

Just noticed post and thread but because I am really busy may not get back to replying later after checking up so quick reply now.
The fishing rights are controlled and managed by the river warden Viv Defresnes (possibly correct spelling but pronounced Defriend by locals here) He is known for being a bit 'enthusiastic' when applying rules. However, in previous years there has been a problem with wild camping or car camping really. Several passing places for the single track road have been blocked off by cars parked by campers that pitch up within a few meters of the car on the Loch side. This has caused inconvenience and annoyance. I presume Viv has put up signs to combat this but, although living only 4 miles away haven't been down the Loch recently so haven't seen where they are.
The car park mentioned by the second pier was created by the fishing club and is on the private land of a local landowner, I'm referring to the car parking area roped off on the other side of the road to the loch and presume you were too. As there is so little parking on the loch side the permission to use this land was granted because it was so difficult for members of the fishing club to find a spot to park. The other pier was put in by the Meubles estate and the parking and barn like storage area are theirs too. There are no roads in to the settlement so this is their access and they don't like it being blocked which is understandable.
Viv can't stop anyone from wild camping on the loch side and doubt he would if it were responsible camping. Camping 10 meters from a car that is parked blocking the use of a passing place might be challenged though and I feel would be justified.
I would contact Viv for clarification via the link Lucy put to Lochmorar . Org if you need to.
Hope that helps.
Mike

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Phizz4 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:32 am

Thanks for the advice and feedback. Not being familiar with the area, having traveled up from the (English) Midlands, we used the guidebook as a starting point. I have contacted Franco at Pesda Press with some updated information about the parking situation which he may be able to include in a newer edition of the guide. As the guidebook suggests putting in at the first jetty that is what we looked at. An update to the guide could include reference to the parking issues in the area and a request to avoid parking in passing bays and on what is obviously private land. As long as there aren't lots of people setting out from here there should be enough space to park without inconveniencing the fishermen. I will contact the access officer as suggested.

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Jim » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:29 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:
anything marked in blue on an OS map, is not guaranteed to be in the location marked, or even there at all
I will take extra care on Motorways, in the light of this...!
And when using the grid lines too :)

No roads are marked to scale so even if the line of the motorway is accurate, you won't find all of it exactly where marked, but the same is true of all roads.

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:01 pm

MikeK>
The car park mentioned by the second pier was created by the fishing club and is on the private land of a local landowner, I'm referring to the car parking area roped off on the other side of the road to the loch and presume you were too. As there is so little parking on the loch side the permission to use this land was granted because it was so difficult for members of the fishing club to find a spot to park.
That is why we chose to park down at the sea end where we had no problems at all, plenty of space. The problem with some guide books (I am generalizing so not necessarily paddling guides) is the writer gets away with parking once then writes it up for all and sundry to follow for the hereafter. There was a similar problem at Ulva ferry after publication of another guidebook.

Douglas

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Jim » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:56 am

Douglas Wilcox wrote:MikeK>
The car park mentioned by the second pier was created by the fishing club and is on the private land of a local landowner, I'm referring to the car parking area roped off on the other side of the road to the loch and presume you were too. As there is so little parking on the loch side the permission to use this land was granted because it was so difficult for members of the fishing club to find a spot to park.
That is why we chose to park down at the sea end where we had no problems at all, plenty of space. The problem with some guide books (I am generalizing so not necessarily paddling guides) is the writer gets away with parking once then writes it up for all and sundry to follow for the hereafter. There was a similar problem at Ulva ferry after publication of another guidebook.

Douglas
These are exactly the sorts of things to talk to the local access officer about. Along with the land reform came a requirement for local authorities to identify ways in which they can improve/facilitate access, but the only way they can identify a need is if people tell them one exists. It would seem that may be a need for a moderate sized public car park somewhere on Loch Morar, but do the local authority know that? They would probably need some way to gauge how often people have difficulty finding a sensible/legal place to park.

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by MikeK » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:12 am

Jim wrote:
These are exactly the sorts of things to talk to the local access officer about. Along with the land reform came a requirement for local authorities to identify ways in which they can improve/facilitate access, but the only way they can identify a need is if people tell them one exists. It would seem that may be a need for a moderate sized public car park somewhere on Loch Morar, but do the local authority know that? They would probably need some way to gauge how often people have difficulty finding a sensible/legal place to park.
This is part of a larger problem Jim. Because this is such a popular holiday destination as there are sandy beaches and quite a few campsites it has been busy for decades but mostly during the Glasgow Fair, Edinburgh Weekend and other similar times. Road improvements over the years have made it more accessible so visitor numbers are up all year round. That includes wild camping by tent and lay by camping for the ever increasing number of camper vans. Where Douglas parked is an area often used as an unofficial campsite, I have counted 36 tents along the edge of the sand in Morar Bay. They all park of course and fill the few places that there are to park long term which is a huge problem. Parking issues are repeated along the coast from Morar to Arisaig and to some extent from Lochailort to Glenuig. The three community Councils, Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig are well aware of the problem as is our local Highland Councillor and therefore the Highland Council too. That is a long winded general answer and kayaking access because of lack of parking is a major problem too.
Times change: In the last two decades I have witnessed the problem slowly reach crisis point. On a sunny day, with the number of visitors coming to the beach and that includes day trippers from Fort William, kayakers, locals and holiday makers- there isn't enough parking for the demand.
Asking the Access Officer to get involved is a good idea. Any pressure on the council and local landowners to modernise their thinking and come up with a coherent parking and access plan to match the demand created by the Tourist Board (never Visit Scotland; yuck) is welcome.

I may see Viv tonight if he comes to the Trad Music Session at the Arisaig hotel, every Friday and thoroughly recommended if you are here by the way. If I do I will have a chat with him about the signs and his position in general.
Mike

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:29 pm

MikeK thank you for this.

You raise a very good point about the undeniable popularity of the area in summer peak times being too much for the local infrastructure which is why the vast majority of my visits are in the depths of winter. However, my last visit to the area was on the recent end of May Bank Holiday. We circumnavigated the Small Isles but because Tony is still working we didn't waste time paddling out or back. We took the ferry to Muck on the Friday and on the Monday we finished on Eigg and waited for the ferry back. It was obvious that there were too many people to fit on the 1600 ferry for Mallaig, which had already picked people up from Rum. Fortunately CalMac laid on an extra ferry so everyone got off eventually. I understand from talking to the crew that they had to restrict the number of day visit passengers on the Monday morning ferry. On our return the parking in Mallaig was truly horrendous. I had to wait for ages to get my car out of the car park by the community centre as people were fighting to get the spaces foot passengers from the ferry were vacating. There were at least two minor bumps and it was complete gridlock with frayed tempers. The situation was worsened by the many camper vans that had set up on the checkered turning area at the end. Other camper vans were taking two spaces and projecting into the access lanes. I was relieved to get the car out unmarked but the 800m journey from the ferry terminal to the car park and back took nearly as long as my old commute 10 miles across Glasgow in the rush hour!! The situation was worsened by the presence of the steam train on the other side of the road. People were abandoning their cars to take photos!

Another issue in the car park was the stench of urine in the hot sun which presumably was being dumped by some of the aforementioned camper vans.

See you next winter!

Douglas

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Re: Loch morar restrictions

Post by ian johnston » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:06 pm

To add to Douglas' points above,

On the same Bank Holiday weekend I was in the area to assess a D of E group doing a route from Ardtoe up to Glenelg. On the Friday I launched from Morar at the small beach just west of the main road at mid-morning and parked my car up at the small car-park at the top of the hill (NM 676 921). I then paddled south to intercept the group, and further south to camp on one of the outer Arisaig skerries.

I was up very early on the Saturday and headed back to Morar, where I was pretty shocked to find no less than 12 tents, mostly large family tents on the beach itself with every scrap of parking taken up. At the car park mine was the only car as every inch was filled with motorhomes. They had parked so close together that their wing mirrors had to be pulled in and most couldn't fully open their doors! I ended up having to put my boat on a trolley and pull it up the road to the car park, then reverse my car out into the middle of the car-park to load it. As Douglas says, parking in Mallaig was extremely difficult all weekend.

Like Douglas, I only go to Arisaig these days in the winter when the motorhomes have gone. If it hadn't been for the D of E group passing through I'd not have gone anywhere near - it's no longer a pleasant place to be I'm afraid, and the multitude of guided kayak groups wild camping on the same worn spots are another aspect of the overcrowding.

MikeK - you clearly have contacts within the local councils - if I could make one suggestion it would be to reinstate the public toilets at the Morar car park and at Traigh - the Morar ones were out of order and those at Traigh are boarded up. The stench of pish in the Morar car park and at the beach wasn't pleasant at all.

Unfortunately this area is a victim of it's own publicity - I'll continue to avoid it if possible in the summer.

Kind Regards

Ian

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