MEMBERS of Tomatin Moorland Group and Cawdor Estate were on a mission to tackle rural littering, gathering in force to clear over 35 bags of discarded rubbish from around Tomatin, Carrbridge and Cawdor village in the past month.

Gamekeepers, families and villagers joined forces to initiate the countryside clean-up around their local communities and were shocked at how much rubbish had been dumped by the public, yards away from litter bins.

Members reported some of the discarded items they found to include:- a bike frame, a pair of boots, a television, fly-tipped rubber tyres and a bed, as well as dirty nappies and work supplies such as road paint.

Co-Ordinator of the Tomatin Moorland Group, Lydia Nibbs, said: “We wanted to do a clear-up because everyone wants to have a nice environment where they live. It is also important for people to respect the countryside. It was a bit of an eye opener, to be honest. Because we did something similar six months ago, no one really expected there to be so much stuff,” she stressed.

“In one lay-by, where there was a big black bin for the purpose, we picked up eight bags of rubbish just thrown around, or beside it.”

As Scotland grows increasingly more aware of its environmental responsibility and the damage which can be caused by discarded plastics, the litter pickers were hugely concerned by the number of single-use bottles and abandoned dog poo bags which were collected. An old bed frame had also been broken up and tossed onto a piece of heather moorland, where red-listed wading birds were gathering for the breeding season.

“Access laws are fine but not everyone respects them in the same way,” remarked one of the gamekeepers who took part in the effort. “These are environments and habitats where there is nesting wildlife.

“It is not uncommon for gamekeepers in this area to be clearing stuff from the countryside that could endanger wildlife. Part of it is education and getting people to take more care,” they urged.

Following their collaborative clean-ups, the groups are keen to do more and get wider community support to keep their local areas tidy.