The tourism industry in Scotland is booming. From Outlander and Harry Potter to a general interest in our history, the day trip mentality will only increase. I’ve travelled to my fair share of other nations and done the whole ‘tourist’ thing. In Italy recently I was impressed with how the ancient Roman sites handled increased tourism demands. In Slovenia I was amazed at the roads and how there always seemed to be a place to pull in and park for a view or a stop. Even in far-flung Brazil I enjoyed pit stops, cafes, toilet breaks and more as we travelled between states.
What I have noticed sadly, is that Scotland is failing itself in terms of the tourism trade. Invermoriston, just outside Fort Augustus at Loch Ness has permanently closed their public toilets. For The Keltic Ginger, that means no more toilet stop for the fifty people we have on our coach. So that means no more Invermoriston as it’s just not time effective to find somewhere else to stop. That means the convenience store doesn’t get our clients buying their Postcards (the only place to get Invermoriston ones), the craft shop doesn’t get an extra fifty bodies through it’s door every fortnight and Cafe Rowan doesn’t get the desperate rush for a caffeine fix. I love Invermoriston. I will be sad to stop going but the sad fact is that travelling with fifty people means we need these toilet breaks. We have travelled almost two hours by this point. Unless serious kidney and bladder problems are now standard in our tours then I don’t see an alternative.
Recently Pucks Glen in Benmore, just north of Dunoon was closed (it is now partially reopen). The best walk was shut for months and still is. There is no sign of it opening anytime soon. This was our best tour. I’ve had to pull it. It’s a tour that has already suffered greatly from the council, planners and builders trying to stop it from running. We also visit Toward to the south of Dunoon. Modern Castle Toward is being renovated to become houses. That’s great, it was a sad old building that needed help. However the old ruin of Toward Castle and the woodland around it was the reason I visited there. As a descendant of the Lamont Clan it means a lot to me to offer this tour. Sadly I can’t. The two lay bys on the main road are full of pot holes and the bus can’t really cope with them anymore. A huge area perfect for a coach remains blocked off and there are no plans to allow coaches or cars to park there. The woodland is flooded and the paths are damaged. Despite the pleas of developers to get my backing by promising path improvements, signage and more, nothing is being done.
I only need three things to tour somewhere in Scotland: a cafe (not the most important at each stop), a toilet (essential at some stops, but not all), and somewhere to park the coach (this is the problem one). The Falls of Leny recently got improved parking but not for coaches. The Lodge at Aberfoyle charges TWELVE POUNDS for a coach to park (don’t expect us to be stopping by anytime soon), the new parking at Glenfinnan refuses to work with the team at the visitor centre and listen to their pleas for help with coach parking. Consistently Scotland is failing itself.
We can be better than this.