Toileting in the outdoors

We appreciate the topic can be a delicate one - which is one of the problems. Not talking about going to the toilet in the wild can result in people leaving faeces and toilet paper lying in the open.

Responsible toileting facts

Responsible toileting steps


Foul facts

pooHazardous waste! Toileting in the outdoors can spread diseases such as Covid-19 and, increasingly in Scotland, giardia

poo foot Look out! Harlaw, Bonaly and other reservoirs in the Regional Park are popular with visitors and their children. Outdoor pooing in the open can result in them stepping in it.

poo pet  Poor pets! Your crap can make dogs (and farm animals) extremely ill. Dogs have died from ingesting human waste.

Poo pollutes! Once human waste enters watercourses, it can affect water supplies, as well as the areas people like to swim and fish in.

poo picnicIt looks like sh*t! There's nothing worse than going for a walk and seeing toilet paper with poo marks lying around. Or, for that matter, being the volunteer or officer tasked with picking it up.

What to do

"Go" before you go. We can't provide loos everywhere, and sometimes the ones that are there will be closed due to vandalism or events such as the Coronavirus pandemic. Try and go to the loo before you visit the Regional Park.

Find your spot. If you MUST go to the toilet in the Regional Park (and we all know there are times which are genuine emergencies!), find somewhere AT LEAST 30m away from water, buildings and farm animals.

Number 1 (pee)? If you haven't used toilet paper, you can now walk away. If you have used toilet paper, put it in a plastic bag and take it away. It can be disposed of in a bin.

Number 2 (poo)? Dig a hole before you go. Once your business is done, cover it up. Put your toilet paper in a plastic bag and bin it responsibly. You can see an excellent video describing exactly what you need to do here.

Bag it and bin it - don't bury toilet paper, sanitary items such as tampons, or wet wipes. Animals will dig them up, and they tend not to biodegrade.

More information

Want to find out more?

See what the experts at Mountaineering Scotland have to say about emergency pooing in the outdoors

Did you know? Open defecation is a major cause of child mortality throughout the world, with cholera being a key factor. Over 600 million people (12% of the world's population) still do it because they don't have a toilet. The measures above (digging a hole, away from a watercourse, and packing out paper etc) mitigate some of those risks.

Planning a multi-day expedition across the Pentland Hills? One of the best books on the subject of outdoor toileting can still be found if you look hard enough: "How to Shit in the Woods", by Kathleen Meyer (published by Ten Speed Press).