Queen's Balmoral estate could be hit by wildfires, rangers warn

Queen’s Balmoral estate could be hit by devastating wildfires, rangers warn after finding dozens of still-smouldering campfires lit by visitors

  • Images show leftover fires and empty drink cans at the estate in Aberdeenshire
  • Another picture captures how roots of old pines were chopped up for firewood 
  • Queen’s rangers wrote: ‘Please leave no trace when wild camping on the estate’
  • It follows experts warning devastating wildfires will become more likely in UK

The Queen’s Balmoral estate could be hit by devastating wildfires, rangers have warned, after finding dozens of still-smouldering campfires lit by visitors.   

Managers shared pictures of the mess left behind by tourists at the 55-acre site in Aberdeenshire, saying they are clearing fires and leftover debris on a ‘daily basis’.

Images show a handful of stones with the remains of a fire inside, an empty tent, large logs dragged onto the flames to burn and empty drink cans scattered nearby.


Damage caused by visitors to the Queen’s 55-acre Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire, above, showing the remains of a fire and empty drinks cans and bottles scattered nearby

Managers at the Queen’s Balmoral estate have warned visitors to stop lighting campfires at the site, pictured above, after dozens were left smouldering, sparking fears of wildfires

Another picture captures how the roots of ancient pines have been chopped up for people to pile onto their fires.

Rangers at the Queen’s estate said: ‘Depressing to find more roots being cut off the old Scots pine trees that line the shores of Loch Muick just to be burnt on campfires.’

In another social media post, they added: ‘Old camp fires are an eyesore! This one was made in the woods next to the toilets at Loch Muick, during this weekend’s high fire risk.

‘Our rangers clear these fires on a daily basis. Photos showing before and after this campfire was cleared.’

Experts have warned that wildfires like the devastating ones seen in the US and Australia will become more likely in Britain.

In 2018, a series of wildfires burned across the UK with the two largest – both declared major incidents – burning over seven square miles on Saddleworth Moor, Manchester, and Winter Hill in Lancashire.

Roots of ancient pines at the estate seen chopped up for people to pile onto their fires. Rangers said: ‘Depressing to find more roots being cut off the old Scots pine trees’

An empty tent left at the estate in Aberdeenshire, above, in an image posted to social media by park rangers. It follows an influx of visitors at the site after the easing of lockdown restrictions

Others burned in Glenshane Pass in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and in the Vale of Rheidol in Ceredigion, Wales.

The Saddleworth Moor fire has been described as the largest English wildfire in living memory.

They were blamed on days of temperatures hitting 30C and above during a heatwave.

The issue has also been highlighted in the last few weeks by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, which helps manage 4,428 acres in north east Scotland.

A board paper released earlier this month said there had been a ‘significant amount’ of people entering the park over the summer, with too many lighting fires.

Rangers posted the pictures alongside comments, above, to social media. The staff asked visitors to leave ‘no trace when wild camping on the estate’

The paper added: ‘There have been issues around camping, campervans, human waste, fires, litter and verge parking.

‘These have been especially prevalent at key hotspots. However, it should also be noted that the vast majority of visitors have behaved well, and that many of the issues around fires etc were done through ignorance rather than malice.’

Peter Crane, Head of Visitor Services, Conservation & Visitor Experience, said: ‘As Covid-19 lockdown restrictions eased, the Cairngorms National Park experienced an influx of visitors resulting in issues around litter, fires, human waste and traffic management concerns.

‘However, it should also be noted that the vast majority of visitors are well behaved and that many of the issues stem from a lack of understanding.

‘We will be looking at areas for infrastructure investment with partners this winter as we look to develop visitor management plans for 2021.’

Balmoral has been owned by the royal family since 1852 and is Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish holiday home.

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