HORDES of campers at a popular beauty spot have started illegal fires and left behind “toilet paper and human waste”.

The shocking disclosure was made by East Lothian Council Countryside Rangers, who said that the woods at Tyninghame and the nearby beach had become an increasingly popular spot for campers.

Illegal fires have been set, with hundreds of people in the area and no toilet facilities on the site.

A post on social media by the Countryside Rangers, highlighting the issue, said: “We have been seeing an unprecedented number of people camping on our sites.

“Only wild camping is permitted in the countryside – light-weight and done in small numbers. Large tents and large groups are not wild camping. On Saturday, July 18, Tyninghame alone had 92 tents.

“Of these, 90 were camping illegally. That equated to roughly 300 people camping and that’s 300 people who will need to go to the toilet on a site with no facilities.”

Issues have moved from litter to irresponsible fires and human faeces being left behind.

They noted 21 “irresponsible fires” at Tyninghame.

They added: “It is illegal to have a fire in a woodland and a ring of stones is not responsible, nor would it prevent a fire from spreading.

“Stones have been known to heat up and explode! Having a fire in a woodland or grassland risks the fire spreading and also leaves a large scar.

“Of the estimated 300 campers, it was clear that most had not thought about how they would responsibly go to the toilet; the World War One tank blocks have become toilet blocks; toilet paper and human waste everywhere.

“Only two groups were being completely responsible and were true wild campers.”

“We encourage everyone planning a trip to the countryside to consider the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – know how to access the countryside responsibly.”

Councillor Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council spokesman for the environment, said that finding human faeces was “disgusting” for the Countryside Rangers.

He said: “We have to accept that, because there are restrictions on where people can go on holiday, people are looking for locations where they can get away from large crowds.

“When we have got 92 people all doing the same thing it is not delivering that.

“We have got issues at Tyninghame with the number of people who have discovered it is a fantastic location.

“People are coming from all over to use it.

“We have no toilet facilities at this location and it is something the council needs to put in place as quickly as possible.

“I think wild camping is something lots of people do nowadays and we just have to manage it the best we can and try to educate people to stop them doing things they should not at these locations, and respect the environment that they are enjoying.”

Allison Cosgrove, vicechairwoman of Dunpender Community Council, described it as “horrible”.

She said: “We are very happy that people want to come and see the area but we do want them to camp responsibly.

"I understand that there are toilets open at Whitesands and John Muir Country Park.”

Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian, said: “Responsible wild campers make sure they do no damage to the countryside they love, but this kind of illegal, irresponsible and potentially dangerous camping is simply vandalism and needs to stop.

“Communities in East Lothian are welcoming of visitors and we need tourists more than ever at this time, but not if they are fouling and damaging our coastline and beauty spots in this way.

“Given that ‘staycations’ are likely to be more popular for some time to come, it is vital that public authorities do more to discourage illegal camping and raise awareness about how to behave responsibly in the countryside.”

Kenny MacAskill, the county’s MP, said: “Our right to roam is embedded in the Scottish soul. Wild camping has been enjoyed for years and enjoyed by those wanting to get closer to our land.

“But whilst access to the land runs deep it must not be abused.

“Farmers have rights most especially, but so does our natural environment, which is there to be cherished not trashed.

“Those enjoying the outdoors must respect the right to do that or face consequences.

“Public agencies are under pressure but enforcement is necessary.

“We all have a duty to call this behaviour out. That way, we can all continue to enjoy spending quality time in the nature that’s on our doorstep.”

A council spokeswoman said there was currently no legislation in place to allow enforcement action.

From Musselburgh along the county coast, there had been “unprecedented” numbers of visitors in the past few weeks, said the spokeswoman.

Some coastal car parks had to be closed at times because they were full, including at Tyninghame, which is located just south of Whitekirk and about two miles north-east of East Linton; Gullane; and Yellowcraig, by Dirleton.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code can be found at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot