A mother-of-two has described the shocking moment a campervan pulled into a Highland primary school car park full of parents before the occupants got out for a toilet trip in the bushes.
Stacey French, who lives in Dores on the banks of Loch Ness, has grown more frustrated with the mess and disruption brought by motorhomes to the rural beauty spot.
The issue has approached boiling point during the coronavirus pandemic amid a rise in staycations.
However, the exasperated mother believes the “lack of respect” shown by visitors just minutes before children left class for the day has now reached a new low.
‘It’s a sheer lack of respect’
It was initially a normal afternoon when Mrs French was waiting at Aldourie Primary School with other parents for their children at home time.
Tempers began to rise when the campervan began reversing into the Highland school car park amid long-term issues with holiday homes using the spaces before parents even suspected they were making a toilet stop.
Frustrations flared when two men got out of the vehicle to relieve themselves in the school ground – one in a special area set aside for children to learn about nature, and the other against a joiner’s shed.
Mrs French, who is a dog fertility doctor, said: “I was in shock, total shock. Obviously we’ve had our problems with campervans in Dores with them parking on roads to the point where others can’t get through.
“They’ve also parked in the primary school car park overnight and the head teacher has knocked on windows in the morning in the past to move them on.
“When the motorhome pulled in we thought they had maybe got lost or whatever.
“The first guy got out and ran up the bank into land that was gifted to the school by another parent’s family and is now used by the children to learn about nature.
“The other guy ran behind a car and a few bushes and literally went against a joiner’s shed – it’s a place of work, there are even signs there to say so.
“When I challenged the guy he said he was ‘bursting’, I was just astonished. There’s a toilet on board but he said he would have to pay extra to the hire company if he used it.
“It’s a sheer lack of respect for those of us who live here, just to save a bit of money.”
Police say they are aware of parking issues with campervans at Aldourie Primary School.
Campervan hire firms ‘selling myth of open road’
Concerns have also been raised in Sutherland that motorhome hire companies are “selling the myth of the open road without mention of the responsibilities”.
Issues have been raised on the NC500 for many years amid reports that the rural infrastructure is unable to cope with the amount of traffic using the tourist route.
Now a community council has hit out at campervan rental firms for contributing to the problem while branding Durness “motorhome city”.
Kinlochbervie Community Council member Margaret Meek said: “It has become the wild west with plenty of cowboys but not enough rangers.
“At the same time, we are also witnessing an increasing number of campervan and motorhome hire companies.
“The advertising of these companies tends to provide prospective customers with an alluring image of an amazing trip in your own private self-contained vehicle where you will have infinite freedom and flexibility.”
Are all campervan owners unfairly targeted?
However, one campervan owner believes visitors are being unfairly targeted amid claims of “passive vigilante behaviour”.
The motorist was parked at Gairloch before noticing a man in a nearby car was taking a keen interest in their vehicle.
It was only when they began making preparations to leave that they spotted a note attached to the window asking them not to dump waste in the area.
However, the campervan owner has said there was never any possibility of them leaving rubbish while insisting they are a “responsible tourist”.
They said: “He had spied on my van, noticed the waste tap was open and made assumptions.
“Of course there was no waste water dumped. I leave the tap open to air until I need to use waste water again. I’m a responsible tourist, I leave no waste.
“I found this targeted encounter creepy and accusatory. Please stop this passive vigilante behaviour of innocent tourists.”