Campervan drivers warned of “aggressive locals” on NC500

Scotland’s largest motorhome hire company is advising its customers to avoid the North Coast 500 because of “aggressive locals” along the route.

Perth-based Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire has put a warning notice on its website directing visitors to what it says are other more scenic routes where they can holiday in peace and quiet.

The move follows reports from its customers of having their tyres slashed and their vehicles being egged.

This week, however, NC500 bosses said they had not seen any evidence of this type of behaviour reported to them or to Police Scotland.

NC500, a circular route around the north coast of Scotland that takes in a huge swathe of Wester Ross, has proved phenomenally popular since it was launched in 2015.

However, its appeal has also brought problems including traffic congestion, speeding drivers, infrastructure unable to cope with the volumes of people and inexperienced motorhome drivers getting stuck on narrow sections of the road.

This week a notice on the Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire company website states: “We wish all customers have an enjoyable holiday experience with us, but due to our customers’ feedback we are now advising customers to avoid the NC500 route.

“Unfortunately it is a victim of its own success with the roads crammed with tourists but especially the huge influx of motorhomes and the narrow roads and delicate infrastructure simply is unable to cope, to the point where some locals are now aggressive towards motorhomes.

“In recent weeks we have had tyres slashed, wheel trims stolen, motorhomes being egged and also cartons of yoghurt thrown at our motorhomes along this route.

“We have designed motorhome friendly routes which are far more scenic where you can holiday in peace and quiet. Please ask us for details.”

Craig Mills, head of operations at North Coast 500 Ltd, responded: “We strongly condemn any irresponsible or anti-social behaviour conducted by a minority of people on the NC500 and would urge people to report such behaviour to Police Scotland and other relevant authorities in the first instance.

“Whether people are travelling in their own vehicle, or hiring one for their visit, we have always actively encouraged visitors to observe our advice for safe driving on country and single-track roads, overnight parking, access rights and waste disposal, which is all available on our website. If people are camping, in a campervan or have a caravan, we continue to urge people to support local businesses on the NC500.

“Our advice is that visitors should only stay overnight in designated sites and they should book in advance in order that their holiday is planned ahead. We encourage people to respect local communities and not to leave waste for others to find or remove.

“NC500 continues to work with our industry partners to focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, actively encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring the region by showcasing the wild, rugged and varied landscapes of the North Highlands.

“We urge visitors to slow down, explore away from the beaten track and focus on wellbeing experiences as part of their travels, such as walking, hiking and swimming, whilst being mindful of their environmental impact.”

In Applecross, at the end of this season, the local community council plans to hold a vote to ask residents if they want the area to be removed from the official NC500 route map.

It comes after concerns voiced locally that being on the trail is bringing more problems than benefits to
the area.

Article by Jackie MacKenzie.

Image by Steve Carter.