YOU’VE had your night in the bothy and are ready to head on.
All that remains is to gather up your trash, put it in a plastic sack and hang it up like a fetid Christmas stocking waiting for some rubbish collecting anti-Santa to take it away.
You’ve done your bit. Not like those folk who just leave their detritus strewn around the floor. That’s just gross.
No, you’re a good little elf, tidying everything away. The volunteers who have to trail in for miles and then remove or dispose of your rubbish must think you are wonderful.
Get real. There’s no bin lorry comes round once a week to take away the trash. Every piece of discarded clothing, every piece of paper, every tin and bottle, every rancid portion of food waste, is down to the individual.
Neil Reid is one of the volunteers who regularly take part in the clean-up operation. He‘s passionate about the landscape and puts his heart and soul into helping keep our bothies fit for purpose. But he is also growing increasingly frustrated and exasperated - not to mention angry - at having to clean up other people’s filth.
One recent discovery of a bag filled with rubbish at Corrour in the Cairngorms saw him having to brush away the swarms of flies and then spend four hours burning as much as he could piece by piece. He then had to carry the rest out with him.
Neil said: “This rubbish is left by people who call themselves hikers, hill-walkers, climbers, bothy folk, very often the same people who decry folk leaving rubbish in bothies. It doesn’t take much at all to change a bothy from a nice, clean, welcoming shelter to a rancid hole that you don’t like to lay your sleeping bag down.”
It’s simple. If you carry it in, you carry it out. You don’t leave it for someone else to deal with. Why would anyone think this is acceptable?
It’s funny (funny as in strange, not funny ha-ha) the way some people’s minds work. Over the past few years, we have seen a massive surge in Scottish pride at our landscape and our culture. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been any great correlation in litter awareness. The continuing problem along the roadsides in Glen Etive and Loch Lomond tend to get the big headlines, but littering is a major headache all over the country.
Accidents do happen. Maps, paper tissues, food wrappers and the like are often torn from your hands by the wind, and plastic bottles can fall from rucksack pockets. But I come across too many of them on hill paths for it all to be accidental. And crushed cans? Do me a favour. It’s just a symptom of the way too many lead their day-to-day lives.
I remember being with a large party having a day out on the hills. The bus had stopped for fish suppers on the way home and just as we getting ready to leave, one person scrunched up his paper remains and threw it out the door into a ditch.
The mass look of astonishment suddenly turned to unbridled anger. He was immediately accosted by a furious mob and made to pick it up. Red-faced and stammering he said: “I wouldn’t do that at home, you know.” But we knew that is exactly what he would do. Living in Glasgow for so long taught me that for some folk, tossing your takeaway trash out of the car window into the street was verging on a national pastime.
The good new is, I have recently noticed an increase in the number of walkers picking up the discarded waste of others during their trek. It doesn’t mean you have to spend the day litter-picking, just gather up the odd piece of rubbish you come across.
Since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced, virtually everyone in the country has at least one bag with them at any time. Most walkers have a few in their rucksack, either for their lunch, protection for gear during wet conditions and even for that old trick of sliding on waterproofs fast and easily. It doesn’t take much to pick up the odd bit of garbage.
If you are using a bothy, make sure you follow good practice. Burn what you can, carry out the rest.
Do not leave rubbish or unused food. Do not leave nearly-empty gas canisters or bottles of meths. Do not leave unwanted gear or clothes.
Let’s give Neil and Co a helping hand. It’s for our own good as well as being basic good manners.
@ You can follow Neil’s Cairngorms blog at https://cairngormwanderer.wordpress.com