Thursday, 3 March 2011

Right Rant Regarding Rubbish

Loch Maree is one of the most beautiful bits of one of the most stunning areas in Britain. I had pulled over to take some photos looking back towards Slioch "the spear" the peak which dominates the north shore of the loch. It was then that I saw it, litter, lots of litter, the rest area was covered in rubbish; cans, bottles, polystyrene some of which looked like it had been dumped on mass. For the rest of the week whenever I stopped, I looked about me and on most occasions I found rubbish littering the roadside even in the middle of nowhere.

Stood there on the shore of Loch Maree I felt a deep physical disgust in my stomach, coupled with anger and total contempt for the people who had done this. I mean; who could do this? How can they possibly think this is acceptable? I can only see it two ways; these people must either be completely blind to their surroundings or in total contempt for them (there was a bin in the rest area). It's things like this that reinforce that selfish little part of my personality that wants to keep the mountains as my own private world for me and my friends

Rubbish beside the A9

A lot of work has been done in recent years upgrading the roads in the northwest highlands, many of the narrow single track roads with their passing places being replaced with a network of fast flowing roads which are a joy to drive. There has been some criticism of this building arguing that they spoil the natural beauty of the landscape and this is true to the extent that you can't drive a road through a landscape and make it invisible, although I feel that a huge effort has been made to minimize the impact of the construction.

The old road down to Loch Maree

Broadly however I’m for the new roads. Unlike the wild lands and national parks of North America all of Britain including our national parks and even our most isolated moor has been touched by man. Our wild landscapes have been shaped by us through forest clearance, the grazing of animals, or the exploitation of minerals. More importantly unlike in the USA these areas are lived and worked for a living. The US has so much space they can afford to protect vast areas inviolate from the hand of man; we cannot, and indeed need not as our landscapes can and should live in symbiosis with their inhabitants as they have done for centuries.

And the new


To expect people who live and work in the mountains of Scotland to suffer with inadequate roads is wrong. They should not have to spend hours driving back and forth to obtain the basics of life, or suffer from isolation in winter when narrow difficult to clear roads become blocked. Also the increased popularity of these areas lead to minor roads becoming massively overloaded with traffic.

There is however another consequence; less effort means you need to make less commitment to get here and in my opinion that means you don’t have to care as much about a place for you to make the trip. Has increased access made the landscape and it’s beauty a consumer product, a commodity which people come to see then discard as it fades in there rear view mirror? Many people  view this landscape from the confines of their car, you often see them sat at the viewpoint inside their little climate controlled box going for the picture postcard experience not the full immersion in a landscape which come with slowly moving through it on foot. Does the car create a barrier to the landscape, which desensitizes people to their actions when they throw litter from it? You very rarely see litter beside a footpath.

Or am I making excuses for these people? Are they just selfish filthy bastards with no empathy of their impact on the environment or on others enjoyment of it? Get the F**k out of our hills.

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