Dornoch Overnight Parking – A Tourist’s Perspective

When I go walkabout I often sleep in my car en route. I believe that as a direct result of my travels around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland thousands of pounds have been put into the local economy. Without my sleeping in a car my travels around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland would never have happened.

I have received numerous emails in support of my campaign against the attempt to introduce “No Overnight Parking” to Dornoch Beach Car Park. The following is reproduced by kind permission of David.

Overnight Parking - Outer Hebrides


I wanted to send you a brief email of thanks and encouragement with your no overnight parking signs campaign.

What riled me about the Dornoch thing (as well as the misuse of the legislation and the seeming wish to push people to a single campsite – which won’t happen), was the disrespect of it all. To say that tourists are blocking use to the beach to locals is nonsense, (what are the locals doing going to the beach at night, and why aren’t they walking if they’re local) but also what right do locals have to parking spaces over visitors anyway? It just gives off the very clear message visitors are not welcome. What greater way to show that tourists aren’t welcome than to accuse them of being disrespectful litterers.

I went traveling around the Outer Hebrides and the North of Scotland this summer, taking advantage of the access to camp (or sleeping in the car if the weather warranted).

The Hebrides seemed very open and encouraging to the whole exercise: some laybys and car parks even had an honesty box asking overnighters for a donation towards a charity or the local land trust.

Back on the mainland I was unaware that sort of road and car park sleeping and camping was previously frowned upon by the council. I actually even stayed overnight in a car park by the beach south of Durness. I wasn’t alone: there were two campervans, someone in a car and me in the tent. All had a good undisturbed night sleep and all left in the morning with no visible trace they had ever been there.

And that was the same everywhere I went. Some places were very popular: Duncansby Head had 6 campervans, two cars and two campers on bikes sleeping overnight; but again, no litter or anything.

People were camping, camper-vanning or sleeping in cars all over: all were friendly (there was great camaraderie between travelers) and all very respectful of the local area. As tourists we’re going to see, enjoy and experience the beauty of these places: why would we ruin that? I never saw a shred of litter left by any of those traveling round; and as for “waste products” – you don’t go on that sort of holiday without making preparations! The majority of those sleeping at the roadside and in car parks/laybys were Campervans anyway -they have toilets and storage tanks built-in; so roadside leavings weren’t an issue anyway. If the council are worried perhaps they should be leaving public toilets open 24/7 like they are in the Outer Hebrides. Or strike up relationships with local pubs/restaurants/hotels/community halls, and agree public use of their facilities – something I saw not only in the Hebrides, but in Perth City Centre!

I’m quite shocked at how the council are trying to stop over night sleeping. The way they are trying to do it is frankly disgusting. It just seems like they are trying to push people towards selected campsites, but these sorts of tourists are traveling this way because they enjoy it. Stopping over night stays in the car parks just pushes them (and the money they bring) to other places: they aren’t the sort to stay in campsites anyway so the area will just loose the tourists.

And how very disrespectful to those who visit Scotland this way (in my experience well over 50% were not from the UK). The council is making it very clear tourists are not welcome. Even accusing them of littering or polluting the area; false allegation if ever I heard one. But how many local businesses rely on tourist’s money?

I am very outraged by the council.

I just wanted to say thank you for your persistence in championing the cause. There are countless people like me who have enjoyed the benefit probably without realising there was ever an issue with such over nights stays. I hope you continue to champion it for the benefit of the countless thousands who travel this way every year.

Best Wishes


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