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Respect Your Park & stay safe

The National Park has so much to offer – it’s the perfect place to make the most of the outdoors. Millions of visitors visit the National Park every year, and 50% of Scotland’s population lives within an hour’s drive.

You’ll often find yourself in challenging locations, such as working farms, estates and areas protected for their conservation value.

That is why we hope all our visitors act responsibly and respect their surroundings, while having a safe and enjoyable time in the National Park. In order to do this, please read the advice below. You can download our ‘Respect Your Park’ leaflet here.

In an emergency

If you get into difficulty away from the road network and need help or medical assistance, please follow these steps:

  • Phone the emergency services on 999. When the operator asks which service, state: police.
  • Provide accurate details of the incident and location (grid references are very useful) – if you are in remote location with difficult access it is important to emphasise this.
  • The Police will assess the situation and send help – this may include a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) and other medical support.
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On the water

  • Exercise care and avoid spillage when refuelling your boat or jet bike and adding oil to engines. This way you help us keep our loch waters as clean and environmentally sound as possible.
  • The abundance of wildlife found in the National Park can only continue to exist if we show consideration to the natural environment.
  • Please take litter home with you and leave nothing behind on the shoreline or the water of any of the lochs and rivers of the Park.
  • If you discover pollution or witness an incident, call the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60. This line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information please visit www.sepa.org.uk
  • When using your craft on Loch Lomond, you must act responsibly, stay safe and understand the Loch Lomond Byelaws.
  • For more information, the National Park Authority water rangers are an invaluable source of information. Contact the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch on 01389 722030.

You can find advice about swimming safely here and enjoying our lochs on a boat or powered craft here.

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Hillwalking & climbing

There’s a huge range of places to walk and climb in the National Park – scenic glens and hills, lengthy mountain experiences or exposed and remote terrain. In winter, our hills and mountains can transform into icy, snow covered giants where experience and mountaineering skills are required.

A progressive approach to hillwalking is a great way to build up your fitness and experience, and the National Park has many routes suitable for visitors wanting to take their first steps in the Scottish hills.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has an excellent range of online resources to support hillwalkers. They also offer information and practical advice on how to stay safe, which you can read about in the Safety and skills in the mountains section.

For climbers, the National Park offers everything from picturesque bouldering circuits at Loch Katrine and East Loch Lomond, bolted single-pitch sport routes at Ardvorlich and Glen Ogle, to traditional easy classics and mountain test pieces on the schisty, towering bastions of the Cobbler.

Some other useful links include:

  • Walk Highlands – covering routes, equipment and accommodation for the majority of hills and mountains in Scotland.
  • The Ramblers Scotland – a charity whose goal is to protect the ability of people to enjoy the sense of freedom and benefits that come from being outdoors on foot.
  • The Mountaineering Council of Scotland – representative organisation for hillwalkers, climbers and ski-tourers living in Scotland.
  • The British Mountaineering Council – protects the freedoms and promotes the interests of climbers, hillwalkers and mountaineers.
  • UKClimbing – a popular website offering a huge range of online climbing and mountaineering resources.

We want everyone to enjoy the National Park in a safe and responsible manner. Be aware that the owners of the land you are crossing might be engaged in deer management and other land management activities and you can help minimise the chance of disturbance. Read more about it in the Heading to the Hills practical guide.

Hiking and hillwalking are risk sports. Always ensure you are prepared before heading out to the hills. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority cannot be held responsible for any accidents, injuries or damage sustained whilst hiking in the Park. All persons taking part in such activities do so at their own risk, acknowledging and accepting the risk of accident, injury or damage.

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Camping

Camping is a great way to enjoy the National Park and there’s a wide choice of places to camp in stunning surroundings. Pitch up at a campsite along an idyllic lochshore or river, or for those who prefer the solitude of ‘wild camping’ away from the hustle and bustle, there are plenty of places to immerse yourself in some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland.

Whichever way you choose to camp please ensure you do it responsibly and respectfully. Leave nothing but footprints and always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – a practical guide to help everyone enjoy the outdoors responsibly. You can also view Wild Camping – A Guide to Good Practice produced by the Mountaineering Scotland.

Seasonal byelaws came into effect on 1st March 2017 which affect how and where you can camp in certain areas of the National Park between March and September. You can find out more about camping in the Park here.

Need some inspiration about where to go camping in the National Park?  You can discover your destination here.

Remember to: 

  • Take your litter home
  • Never cut down or damage trees to make a fire
  • Use a public toilet or bury your waste
  • Dispose of your fishing line responsibly
  • Is your tent one too many? Avoid over-crowding when camping
  • Keep noise down and lights low after 9pm

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Tick & Lyme Disease

Ticks are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of birds and mammals – including you. They are found in many parts of the region and unfortunately carry several diseases including Lyme disease.

Ticks live in tall grasses, shrubs, bushes and trees branches up to waist height, and attach themselves as you brush past – they prefer creased areas like the armpit, groin and back of the knee. You won’t feel the bite, as the tick will anaesthetise the area. Don’t panic though, simply being bitten by a tick doesn’t mean you’ll automatically contract Lyme disease, however the risk is out there.

Preventive measures

  • Walk in the middle of paths and avoid unnecessary ‘bushwacking’ between March and October.
  • Keep your arms and legs covered.
  • Ticks stand out on light-coloured fabrics
  • Good quality insect repellent can reduce the incidence of tick bites
  • Check clothes and skin carefully– in springtime ticks are tiny, but more easily spotted in summer
  • Check that ticks are not brought into the home on clothes, pets, equipment, rugs etc.
  • Check children carefully, especially along the hairline and scalp

If you discover a tick

  • Fortunately they are relatively easy to remove – use a good pair of sharp tweezers, grip the tick by the mouth parts (close to your skin as possible), and pull it straight out anti-clockwise. DO NOT squeeze the body of the tick, apply substances like Vaseline or try burning the tick off, these can lead to an infection.
  • If you do not have tweezers to hand, a loop or slipknot of strong cotton wrapped around the mouth parts, and pulled, is also effective. Make sure you remove all of the mouthparts.
  • Removing ticks as soon as possible reduces the risk of infection – consider retaining the tick in a sealed container in case you develop symptoms later.
  • The most obvious symptom of Lyme disease is the ‘Bull’s Eye’ rash, a red ring-shaped rash spreading from the site of the bite. It appears 2 – 40 days after infection and is the only sure-fire symptom of the disease. If you develop this rash, take a photo for your doctor. Less than 50% of people with Lyme get this rash, and if left untreated a range of serious symptoms can develop, including a flu-like illness, facial palsy, joint pain and viral-type meningitis.
  • If you think you may have caught Lyme disease, see your GP straight away. If the GP suspects Lyme’s you should begin antibiotic treatment right away, without waiting for any test results.

For more information see the National Health Service website.

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Breeding birds

Many species of our winged and feathered friends live in the Park, and although disturbance is not a significant issue for us, it’s worth noting that birds are sensitive during the spring breeding period.

Remember, all wild birds, their nests and eggs are protected by the law (Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981). Damaging, destroying or disturbing nests, birds or eggs is an offence. Schedule 1 species e.g. Golden Eagle, Osprey and Kingfisher, are especially vulnerable and subject to additional protection.

Some common indicators of disturbance include:

  • Alarm calling
  • Visibly agitated birds, sometimes circling the threat
  • Mock or actual dive bombing

A particularly sensitive time is during incubation – if the parent birds are scared off the nest, the eggs can chill quickly and effect embryo development. The period of time when birds are incubating eggs can vary widely depending on location and species.

Ground nesting birds are commonplace in the Park. In general, they are less likely to be disturbed by walkers as they usually build nests away from popular paths. However, the greatest risk comes from dogs running off the lead in areas not normally visited by walkers. Dog owners should keep their animals under close control during nesting season in these areas.

For more information see:

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Farmland & animals

Lambing & Dogs

Hill farming takes place throughout the Park, and every spring new lambs can be seen frolicking in the sunshine enjoying their first taste of life. To a farmer, the lambs represent their livelihood and income – the next generation of ewes and rams. To dogs, the lambs are defenceless ‘prey’ and unfortunately the National Park Authority receives reports every year of sheep being attacked and lambs killed. It is imperative that dogs are kept under close control when livestock is present (especially during lambing). For more information see the Scottish Natural Heritage ‘Dog Walking’ guide.

If you walk your dog in the Park, please take note of any signage at access points and adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC).

Farm animals

Never let your dog worry or attack farm animals. Don’t take your dog into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young farm animals. If you go into a field of farm animals, keep your dog(s) on a short lead or under close control and keep as far as possible from the animals. If cattle react aggressively and move towards you, keep calm, let the dog go and take the shortest, safest route out of the field.

Crops

Don’t take your dog into fields of vegetables or fruit unless there is a clear path, such as a core path or right of way, and keep your dog to the path.

Dog Waste

Pick up and remove your dog’s faeces if it defecates in a public place.

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Stalking & field sports

Our iconic glens, hills and mountains such as; Glen Kinglass, Ben Vorlich, Luss Hills and Ben More, provide some big challenges and stunning backdrops for hill walking the Park – we also have a number of traditional estates where deer stalking takes place. Stalking helps manage herd numbers and animal health, contributes to conservation and provides an important income for rural communities.

Usually, there is very little conflict between hill walking and stalking, but occasionally we receive reports of accidental disturbance, and this can have a big impact on the estate.

We encourage all hillwalkers to use the Scottish Natural Heritage ‘Heading to the Scottish Hills’ resource before heading out.

Contact details for the main estates in the National Park can be found here.

Please adhere to any signage at the access points.

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