Volunteers restoring the boathouse and surrounding area at the Loch of Blairs near Forres have issued a warning not to walk on the ice, after mindless vandals put their own safety at risk.
A picnic bench has been lifted from its waterside location and pushed into the middle of the frozen loch. It appears to have been taken out by people walking on the ice.
The team at Blairs Loch posted their dismay at discovering the bench sitting on the ice on their Facebook page, and believe that a group of young people are responsible.
Their message asks simply “Why?” And it goes on to remark how foolhardy such action is.
“As well as the obvious vandalism, this is an incredible feat of foolhardiness. If the ice had given way this could have resulted in a fatality.”
Responses on the post are united in their disbelief:
“All the hard work that was put in to make this the place it used to be the people know who they are who did this and they should be ashamed of yourself. It takes a lot of hard work and time and money. I hope they fine the people who did this.” – WW
“These people are sick in the head, quite obvious not the full shilling, just a matter of time, mind you if they were caught they would get a severe slap on the wrist,” – JW
“I’m speechless, why would anyone want to do such a stupid and mindless thing.” – SGC
“Sorry no words can l say but feel angry on this. With the hard word that every1 has but into this. Hope they catch up with them.” – FG
“Oh my god, can’t understand people that would do this. Its such a beautiful place too.” – SC
“Ohh ffs why? Exactly what does crap like that achieve.” – GS
“Unbelievable what the hell is wrong with people ” – GH
Volunteers have asked for anyone with information to get in touch.
On Monday morning, Jim Davis from Ace Adventure helped retrieve the bench using a raft.
Volunteers have emphasised that the loch is not safe to walk on, and made a plea to parents to be aware of where their children are and what they are up to when not at home, especially at times like this.
Brian Higgs, one of the team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to restore the boathouse and make the area accessible, said: “We are extremely grateful to the guys from Ace Adventures that helped us retrieve the picnic table from the ice this morning. These guys are very experienced, wore full dry suits with buoyancy aids and had a raft attached to a rope to use for safety
“They reported that the ice was treacherously slippery and uneven in thickness. If someone goes out on the ice and slips they could easily crack their head, or break an arm or leg. That would result in a full Emergency Services rescue at a time that they have far more important things to do.
“If you are even considering walking on the ice please think about your own safety and the massive inconvenience you will cause to others if something happens.
“If someone slips and cracks their head, or breaks an arm, for example, then it would be a full-scale emergency services rescue at a time when they are stretched.”
The team have emphasised: DO NOT WALK ON THE ICE.