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Walkers under fire over litter on the Way; Problems also with human waste on the tourist route.

Byline: Chris Marzella

Thoughtless walkers were this week accused of leaving litter and even excrement along the West Highland Way.

The concerns were raised by Blanefield resident, Bob Sharp, who is calling for better upkeep of the 96-mile route which begins in Milngavie and runs northwards to Fort William.

Mr Sharp who previously volunteered for Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, is fed up picking up the litter left behind when he walks the route near his home.

He said: "There is a real issue with litter and human excrement that gets left along the path.

"The litter is constant. You seem to see cans of alcohol, presumably left by neds. There are sandwich wrappers and things like that as well, clearly left by walkers.

"There's also an issue with damages to parts of the path, due to things like flooding, where parts of it have been washed away.

"Hundreds of trees have been planted as well, with no thought given to drainage."

Mr Sharp says that there is need for one single organisation to manage the paths.

He added: "I went to the Appalachian Trail, in America, that's over 2000 miles long and you don't see anything like this there. Yet we can't maintain about 90 miles of pathway? Nobody seems to care and there's no overseeing organisation. Who is responsible?" Alan Hutton, convener of Strathblane Path Development Group, added: "Two major issues have emerged on our stretch of the West Highland Way in recent years - erosion and major maintenance issues with the path itself, especially between Dumgoyne and Gartness, in the last year and frequent reports of human waste in areas along the path in the Blane Valley.

"There are no toilet facilities between the start of the walk in Milngavie and the Beech Tree Inn at Dumgoyne. A proposal for a composting toilet a few years ago collapsed because it would have required a team of volunteers to maintain.

"In Strathblane we formed a Path Development Group in 2012 and have since created three large and two smaller new or reconstructed paths raising over PS225,000 in funding, over half of it from Sustrans and none of it from Stirling Council.

"We do not see it as our responsibility to maintain Scotland's premier long- distance path with no funding from Scottish Government or Stirling Council and where funds for paths are accessible to Stirling Council the rural part of South West Stirlingshire needs a fair share."

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park say that it currently works with a number of councils on the upkeep of the route.

A spokesperson said: "The West Highland Way is managed and maintained across four local authority areas and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park working together to help maintain this world renowned long distance route for the tens of thousands of visitors it attracts each year.

"Each local authority delivers ongoing maintenance and repairs for the parts of the route that pass through their area to ensure it stays open and accessible year round."

Forth and Endrick councillor, Robert Davies said: "Although it's an important source of revenue for hotels, restaurants, shops and taxi firms in rural areas it receives virtually no funding for repairs and improvements. Surely some of the tax revenues from those businesses could be directed toward keeping this iconic Scottish path in good condition."

Stirling Council had not responded to our request for comment at the time of print.

There are no toilet facilities between the start of the walk at Milngavie and the Beech Tree Inn
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Publication:Stirling Observer (Stirling, Scotland)
Date:Jun 29, 2018
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