Volunteers give Highland beaches a makeover

Two scenic and remote beaches north of Ullapool in the North West Highlands have been treated to a makeover by almost 50 volunteers through the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas project.

Volunteers collecting litter © Noel Hawkins SWT

More than 300 bags of rubbish were gathered and taken out of the beaches at Dun Canna, which lies at the foot of Ben More Coigach – enough to fill a 25 cubic metre skip. Most of this rubbish was made up of fishing nets and ropes, plastic bottles and caps, as well as old toys and food packaging.

Living Seas Communities Officer Noel Hawkins said: “Marine waste is an ever increasing issue. Not only does it spoil beautiful locations but it’s also a serious threat to marine life, and can injure pets and visitors to the beach.

“Access to the beaches involves a mile and half long walk over hills and fields so removing the rubbish is a challenge, but we saw this as an opportunity to bring together different people and groups to try and tackle the situation.

“Thankfully so many people came it made it possible to finish the small and big beach – tackling them alone or in small groups would have taken forever and been extremely difficult. I’d like to thank everyone who took part and hopefully we can organise more beach cleans in the future as there are still plenty of spots to tackle.”

Rubbish collected from Dun Canna © Noel Hawkins SWT

The two beaches which have been cleared are on either side of Dun Canna, an Iron Age fort nestled on a headland on the shore of Keanchulish Estate. The shores and even the banks of the beaches have become covered and clogged in predominantly plastic waste, netting, containers, ropes and even old metal fish tins, which date back to Soviet factory ships from the 1970s and 80s.

The beach clean was organised by the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas project in conjunction with the Highland Ranger Service and Marine Conservation Society. Volunteers included members of the local community as well as visitors. Staff from Keanchulish Estate provided support including a tractor and trailer, quad bike and argocat to help get the rubbish from the shore to a skip which was donated by a local hire company.

Noel Hawkins added: “Many of those who came along were shocked by the sheer scale of the litter. Hopefully taking part in beach cleans encourages people not only to come and help but also to look at how much plastic they use and how it is disposed of.”

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