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Eco-Trekking: Making the Most of Your Wild Walks
Scotland’s breathtaking destinations have been a draw for travellers across the globe for centuries, boasting some of the most beautiful and rugged walks in Europe which have been unspoiled by modern tourism. The Stevenson Way’s vast terrain covers some of the most picturesque scenery and challenging trails, from the majestic pines of Perthshire to the misty peaks of Ben More. The Way’s stunning 370 kilometre breadth encompasses some of the most difficult climbs and challenging conditions that should only be attempted by intrepid travellers, which makes it one of the most coveted walks in Scotland. Equipping oneself with the right gear and knowing how to use it is a very important part of the process, but equally important, travellers need to know how they can minimise their impact in order to preserve the beauty of the Way which has endured for so many ages.
The Importance of Ecotourism
Like many world-famous walks, the Stevenson Way is important for its geological and natural history as well as its social and historical legacy. Scotland’s progressive policies in managing the environment have laid the foundation for a solid infrastructure in ecotourism, which strives to promote “Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples.” This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as:
- Local businesses adopting eco-friendly practices like recycling schemes and buying carbon credits
- Giving local communities an active say in decision making
- Addressing social and environmental issues
- Profiting conservation projects
- Promoting local, sustainable economies
- Reducing carbon footprint wherever possible on the part of businesses and travellers
- Offering a unique insight and experience into the region
Upgrading Camping Gear
While much of the onus is on the region which is affected by tourism, it is also up to the traveller to play a role in minimising their impact. The “take lots of pictures and leave only footprints” mantra is particularly resonant here. By the very nature of wild camping, travellers already pack light with reusable rather than disposable items. A number of eco-friendly alternatives are available including:
- Lightweight camp stove (less than a kilo) like the BioLite CampStove which uses twigs and other renewable fuel
- LED or wind-up mini-lantern/torch
- Solar charger (these can usually be clipped to backpacks)
- Biodegradable tent pegs
- All-purpose soap and dry wash gel
- Biodegradable toilet paper
- Solar powered tents are optional, and tend to be heavier than regular tents
- Small radio (battery-powered devices tend to be smaller/lighter than wind-up)
- Reusable cutlery, pots, pans and other items; wood and aluminium items are light-weight and long-lasting
These compact, light-weight items are not only low-impact, but offset carbon by their endurance which lasts a long time of regular use provided they are efficiently taken care of.
Campers should only use established campsites to prevent disturbance of the surrounding environment and erosion. The Stevenson Way has a wide range of charming accommodation available for travellers who are seeking a more homely adventure than wild camping.
On the Trail
Part of the eco-traveller’s dream is to enjoy an off-the-beaten track experience which is unique to conventional travel, and the vast wilderness of the Stevenson Way provides ample opportunities to enjoy nature. Yet at the same time, preventing too much disruption by breaking new trails isn’t advised. Nature-watchers can still enjoy an intimate experience by visiting some of the National Parks, reserves, and sanctuaries en route, which also helps to support the conversation projects in progress. These places are among some of the best ways to save money while eco-trekking, as well as offer a fascinating insight into some of the fauna and flora which makes Scotland so distinct. Campers and hikers can also save money by some old tried and true methods of making your own equipment as well as investing in some of the other eco-friendly assets for their camp gear, as well as using coupons and looking for discounts at camping outlets.
Most importantly, taking time to get to know the Stevenson Way and its historical, cultural, and environmental treasures will not only make the experience more fulfilling, but inspire hikers and campers to enjoy some of the local businesses and organisations which are integral to the land’s heritage.
This article was contributed by freelance writer Anne Foy.
Links to Relevant Sites
Sustainable Camping Guide - Written from an American perspective but still has very useful information. Peter Byrd