ABUSE was directed at countryside rangers as they dealt with a record number of tents at the East Lothian coast at the weekend – including 146 at a single beach – with soaring temperatures seeing thousands flock to the county's beaches.

Beaches and their car parks were said to be "exceptionally busy across all of the sites" on Saturday and Sunday, with a total of 216 penalty tickets issued over the weekend.

East Lothian Courier:

Gullane Beach was extremely busy all weekend. Image: East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service

One of the busiest car parks, Yellowcraig, had 572 cars parked in its main and overflow car parks just after 5pm on Saturday, with many more parked on the grass verges on the road leading to the car park.

Although most beach-goers behaved responsibly, there were incidents of rangers being abused.

In addition, there were a number of smouldering fires which had to be put out, as well as litter including an abandoned inflatable kayak (pictured below, by East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service), dinghy and air bed.

East Lothian Courier:

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: "Yellowcraig, Gullane and all three Longniddry car parks were full at times. The overflow car park was opened at Yellowcraig at 10.30am and Gullane at 11.30am on Saturday (10.30am and 2.30pm on Sunday); both facilities remained full for the best part of the day.

"There was also a large number of vehicles parked on the verges and roadside at all locations where car parks were full."

East Lothian Courier:

East Lothian Countryside Rangers took this photo of a car blocking emergency vehicle access.

"A record numbers of tents were found at a number of coastal sites (146 at Yellowcraig on Sunday morning), with few of these being true wild campers.

East Lothian Courier:

"Our countryside rangers visited sites and talked with visitors, offering advice. Most behaved responsibly; however, there were incidents of abusive behaviour directed to rangers in the west of the county and at Gullane, smouldering fires that required extinguishing at several sites, and an abandoned inflatable kayak, dinghy, air bed and bags of litter at Tyninghame."

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “This weekend’s warm weather brought increased numbers of visitors to all of our sites, especially our coastal sites.

"While most visitors behaved responsibly, our countryside rangers had to deal with issues around littering, discarded materials and, worryingly, smouldering fires. Rangers offered advice to people attending with tents on true wild camping, which was mainly well received, but it is unacceptable to hear of rangers facing abusive behaviour from a minority of visitors.

East Lothian Courier:

"Our coastal areas are not campsites and it is important that people plan ahead to make sure they are protecting our countryside for all visitors.

“We ask that all visitors act in a responsible way, both in terms of access to our coast and countryside and reducing the likelihood of transmission of Covid-19 within our communities, including limits on numbers of gatherings and avoiding crowded places, which is in line with the Scottish Government guidance.”