Campers and caravanners have suggested alternative sites which they say must be considered following news that Shetland Recreational Trust is to sell the Clickimin campsite.
The impending loss of the site has dismayed locals who use it and will be sorely missed by holiday makers, they say.
Lerwick man Gordon Laurenson founded Shetland Caravan Club with his wife Brenda about 10 years ago. Mr Laurenson voiced the sentiments of members when he said: “Lerwick can’t not have a campsite.”
He would love to see the Clickimin site retained. He says as well as being a tourist attraction, it is well-used by folk from the isles, especially at events such as Relay for Life.
In addition those using it contribute to the Clickimin centre’s recreational facilities and cafe, he said.
Mr Laurenson questioned the wisdom of disposing of the site, which he heard had a “glowing” annual report last year, and said: “Is the campsite big enough for the school and what’s going to come of the helicopters?”
Thoughts gathered from those with an interest in the subject have revealed three possible alternative sites in the town:
1. A space behind Islesburgh Youth Hostel in King Harald Street could be used for tents. The site would be tucked away between the youth hostel and the old house next door, and would be secluded in spite of the proximity of the busy main thoroughfare. Up to a dozen tents could be accommodated there and campers could use the youth hostel’s facilities;
2. The land in Gilbertson Park between the old toilet block and the rockery. They say this area is not used to its full capacity and would be suitable for tents. The park has a keeper five days a week and campers could use the park’s toilet block and showers, which are generally only used on an occasional basis by footballers. This suggestion, campers feel, would maintain the building and ensure work for the park-keeper. The site also benefits from a very central location;
3. Outside the town centre is Seafield, which was used as a campsite during the Tall Ships visit. The area has a car park, which could be suitable for as many as 15 caravans, and around the same number of tents could be accommodated in the field over the wall from Taing House. Seafield benefits from changing rooms, which have been refurbished and used by people playing rugby, hockey and taking part in horse-riding, and the area is convenient for bus stops and a large super-market.
Any new campsite, whether seasonal or otherwise, would have to be maintained, but the Caravan Club suggests this function could be organised through the community council, initially on a trial basis.
The potential sites would need very little landscaping but functions such as grass-cutting, clearing litter and cleaning showers would all have to be negotiated.
VisitShetland chief Steve Mathieson said it was “disappointing” that Clickimin was to close but VisitShetland, Promote Shetland and SIC economic development are working on a plan to help other areas to promote themselves.
There are camping or caravan sites at Eshaness, Fetlar, Gardiesfauld in Unst, the Burravoe marina in Yell (with the toilets in an upturned boat) North Roe hall, Collafirth Pier, Whalsay, Skeld, Levenwick and at the marina of Delting Boating Club and at Sumburgh Hotel.