Hillwalkers who made a journey of 150 miles over the course of the bank holiday weekend have been slammed by a local leader and the breakdown firm forced to come to their aid.
The group were accused of unnecessarily putting others’ lives at risk with their thoughtless actions, which flew in the face of Scottish lockdown rules.
Branded “clowns” in the wake of the incident, the group had driven from Glasgow to trek Glen Shiel in the north-west Highlands.
But they had to call for help after their vehicle suffered a blowout near Cluanie, at the southern end of the Glen, on Friday afternoon.
Local breakdown firm, Morar Motors, had to come to their assistance, with the vehicle – and passengers – placed on the back of a breakdown truck and taken to Kyle of Lochalsh, where repair work was undertaken.
Restrictions under the current coronavirus pandemic meant the occupants of the vehicle had to remain in their vehicle to prevent interaction with the recovery driver.
The incident has sparked anger in the local community where the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic are being fatally felt on nearby Skye.
Morar Motors opted to share a post on social media in a bid to prevent others from flocking to the Highlands during lockdown.
Colin MacDonald, owner of Morar Motors, said: “The offenders in question were planning to spend the bank holiday climbing the Glen Sheil Ridge and saddle in Ross-shire.
“They had travelled from the Glasgow area.
“We were debating with the idea of whether or not we would post anything, but after Friday’s incident, we felt we had to let people know after similar incidents over the past couple of weeks in other tourist hot spots including Arisaig, Glenfinnan and Skye.
“We hope the post will deter others from travelling unnecessarily and putting innocent individuals at risk.
“It’s just ridiculous.”
Mr MacDonald added: “Our garages have been closed for six weeks.
“It is a bank holiday weekend, a half-decent day, and we are in lockdown at home obeying the rules, but are having to unnecessarily risk going out in order to rescue them.
“Had the driver had a more serious accident, emergency service resources would have also been required to attend.”
Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford said there are “no exceptions” to the lockdown rules.
“Everyone must heed the advice the non-essential travel is not permitted,” he said.
“All of us must play our part and stay at home except for essential shopping, going to work or taking part in exercise.
“There are no exceptions.
“When you consider the challenges Skye is facing with Covid-19 and recognition of the responsibility we all have to control the spread of the virus, it is the height of recklessness for anyone to think they can drive a long distance to the west Highlands to go for a walk in the hills.
“It must stop and, for now, visitors must stay away.
“Yes, people will be afforded traditional Highland hospitality, but only when it is safe to do so.”
Last month, Scotland’s mountain rescue teams praised walkers and climbers for staying off the hills during lockdown, noting that it was the longest period without a rescue in 19 years.