Car parking

Ramblers Scotland encourages the use of public transport where possible, but we recognise that many walkers use cars to get to the start of a walk, especially if they are reducing the risk of catching Covid-19 by avoiding public transport.  If possible, efforts should be made to share cars and cars should always be parked responsibly.  Increasingly, car parking fees are being charged in popular areas.

car park

Our position
In principle, we are not opposed to charges for car parking but only when it’s made clear that the money raised is being used to improve facilities for walkers, such as paths, signage, toilets and other visitor infrastructure.  For example, we know that any money raised in car parks owned by Forestry & Land Scotland is directly invested back into  visitor management.  By contrast we raised concerns over Argyll & Bute Council’s decision to charge up to £9 per day in car parks, including at Arrochar where people park to climb The Cobbler, as the money raised went into central council funds. We believe that a transparent account of where the revenue is being spent will help to encourage support for visitor contributions, to the benefit of all those enjoying the outdoors. Otherwise, high parking costs could be seen as a charge for access and deter those on a lower income from enjoying the outdoors

We are aware, however, that sometimes walkers leave their cars in a car park overnight while enjoying multi-day hiking trips using bothies or camping, and there may be a penalty for doing so if daily tickets can’t be displayed.  We are also concerned that in trying to clamp down on anti-social camping or irresponsible motorhome use by banning overnight parking, landowners may also be affecting those who are acting responsibly.  However, if you are parking off the public road or layby, whether on a verge or in a car park, this is not done by right but by permission of the landowner, and this permission can be removed.  We are in discussion with Forestry & Land Scotland and Mountaineering Scotland about how to best manage these issues.

We support the development of dedicated informal camping areas and motorhome hook-ups to give people an opportunity to park responsibly and also contribute to the local economy.

Background
It is perhaps surprising how many great walks can be done by public transport in Scotland – even many Munros can be tackled from railway stations like Blair Atholl, Arrochar or Achnasheen.  However, we’re aware that buses and trains can be irregular outside urban areas and people may have health concerns about sharing space with others for a long period, so if a car needs to be used our members are encouraged to car share where possible.  You should use car parking facilities where they exist, but if not cars can usually be parked within 15 yards of the public road without causing an offence, though you should make sure you aren’t blocking any gates or tracks.

Sometimes car parks have a charge for leaving your car, especially in areas where there are high numbers of visitors.  Likewise some car parks prohibit overnight parking as this has been shown to encourage some people to set up camp for a longer period of time, and has led to problems with littering and anti-social behaviour. 

Last updated June 2020