We welcome visitors camping on the island, but this should be done in a way that respects our beautiful landscape and should only be within sites where there are appropriate facilities.
This Summer there have been large numbers of campervans, caravans and tents pitched around the island outside of the official campsites.
This is not ‘wild camping’ which is permitted in Scotland. Wild camping is intended to allow people with minimal equipment to stay overnight when they are between remote locations. What we have on Cumbrae is people coming across on the ferry, parking their car, caravan or campervan at the side of the road and unloading tents and awnings, barbeques, wind breaks, tables and chairs.
This has generally been tolerated in the past as the numbers have been fairly limited. However, since COVID, and the rise of the staycation, the popularity of camping on the island has risen dramatically. One weekend, 35 separate groups of campers were counted around the island. This probably amounts to 100 people staying in laybys, parking bays and on beaches where there are no toilet facilities and only limited waste facilities. The result has been that access to some of the beaches and paths has been blocked for other users, parking bays have been permanently occupied – sometimes for weeks at a time – and there has been widespread littering and dumping of equipment.
There are campsites on the island which do have proper facilities and which can be booked in advance, including the new motorhome site at the Garrison and the touring caravan site at Millport Holiday Park.
North Ayrshire Council is putting up ‘No overnight parking’ signs at key locations around the island (outside of Millport town) to discourage campers. We will continue to monitor the situation to see whether this brings the issue under control.
North Ayrshire Council have also agreed not to tarmac any more of the grassed areas at the side of the road that campers have been parking on, and not to paint any more white lines around parking areas.
17 August 2022