It’s difficult to keep up with change, these days.
I mean this in the profound sense, but also the day to day updates on where one may, or may not travel to, whether it’s advised and with which restrictions. Amongst other things, of course!
With this in mind, I have been trying to keep clients (existing and potential) of Vistas Sketching Holidays informed about forthcoming departures, cancellations, postponements and developments via an infrequent newsletter. Realising another newsletter was due along with the ‘blog’ which I try to write monthly, I decided to combine the two, and the intention was to inform everyone, via the post, of the changes to departure dates for this year and next. As often happens, however, once I sat down to write something, whatever I had in my mind began to morph, in front of my eyes and beneath my runaway fingers, into something else entirely. I found myself teetering on the brink of a rant. I seem to be doing quite a bit of ranting these days and I’m not sure if that’s healthy but I reckon it’s better out than in. I decided, therefore, that it was wiser to do it here.
We have had enough.
By ‘we’, I mean most of us who live in the Highlands, especially around the so-called NC500 ‘route’ and a few other tourist hotspots. Even those of us who work in and depend upon tourism. The type of tourism we began to see last summer, which has completely exploded and overwhelmed us since around April this year, is not the kind we are accustomed to and it is driving us to anger and despair. From ‘dirty campers’ to first-time, clueless hirers of giant motorhomes, completely inappropriate for our narrow roads; boy racers in teensy, silly sports cars, lycra-clad lifestyle cyclist groups to van-lifers, it seems the world and his dog wants a piece of this ‘wilderness’ and the dog is the only one behaving himself.
Of course, we have always welcomed visitors but in the past it appeared most of them appreciated, enjoyed and respected the area without feeling the need to desecrate it. These days our most loyal regulars are as horrified as we are about what they see happening and I’m at a loss as to what the answer may be. It seems no hidden corner is without streams of toilet paper and whatever lurks beneath it. The most scenic viewpoints are further decorated with plastic wipes. Don’t even get me started on the must-have Instagram camp fire which often seems to require living branches being cut from trees. Yes, some are travelling with axes and saws. What on Earth is wrong with people and does Covid affect brain function?
While mulling over how to tackle this topic without giving myself a hernia I stumbled upon an article going into much finer detail in a much more eloquent way than I could in my aggitated state. So if you are truly interested in what I’m talking about, head over to
People say to me, isn’t it great that there are so many tourists in the area, bringing so much custom? My answer is yes, of course, we want to be busy. But we are full. What happens when we are over-full? How many is too many? When do we become ‘loved to death’, and how can we prevent the destruction of the very things we hold most dear, the things these people are supposedly coming to see?
When tales of schoolchildren cleaning up visitors’ toilet matter become mainstream, we know this has to STOP.
Tourism? Yes, please. But NOT at all costs. And right now, the price we are paying is way too high.