by Colin Campbell
TRAVEL warnings, guidelines and pleas were ignored as a mass influx of caravans and campervans headed up the A9 to the Highlands on Sunday.
An Inverness man who travels south extensively as part of his work as an executive in the care industry told Inverness news and views last night: “I’ve been on the A9 hundreds of times and I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many heading north as there were this morning.
“I was going to Perth and the road north was very busy. And just about every second vehicle seemed to be a caravan or campervan.
“Maybe I was more aware of them because of all that’s been said about the curbs or proposed curbs on travel but there’s absolutely no doubt there was an exceptional if not extraordinary number heading north.
“I don’t know where they came from and who knows where they were going, but I did think, so much for the stay-away stuff. From what I saw that’s been comprehensively ignored.”
The English school holidays start this week. Nicola Sturgeon has said she is considering imposing a travel ban on visitors heading north of the border, although it’s not been made clear how that could be enforced, or even if it would be legal.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has already imposed a “ban” on travellers from England going into Wales, but police have said this will be unenforceable.
To complicate matters further Highland Council is grappling with complaints from across the region about unrestricted dirty camping, with some mobile visitors accused of parking on private land or leaving a mess behind them when they leave their locations.
But the visual evidence from the A9 yesterday was that people in the south, no doubt including some from virus hotspots, have had enough of curbs and guidelines and are heading north in numbers for what they see as the wide open Highlands where infection rates are the lowest in the country.
And any attempt to prevent cross border travel even now may be a case of too little, too late.