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Guidance for hill walkers and climbers in Scotland

**Please note that the information below is the Scottish Government guidance for people living and travelling to Scotland, and measures may differ between Scotland and the rest of the UK. **

Update 03/08/2021

  • The First Minister has announced further changes to many of the current restrictions for Scotland from Mon 9 August. We await further details and will issue an update to guidance as soon as possible. In the meantime, the following still applies.

  • To help protect island communities, anyone travelling to one of the Scottish Islands is asked to take two lateral flow COVID tests before travelling (the last one within 24 hrs of travelling) - more details on how to get tests here.
  • Indoor climbing walls follow guidance from the ABC, but each wall will have its own rules regarding groups' activities, use of face coverings, physical distancing etc depending on size and layout. For details of which climbing walls are open visit the ClimbScotland website.

Information for hill walkers and climbers at levels 0

Please scroll down for our full guidance documents for hill walkers and climbers, and clubs for more information:

Level 0

  • Travel for outdoor recreation and exercise: you can travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless for a permitted reason.
  • Informal outdoor exercise/recreation: You can meet socially for outdoor recreation/exercise in groups of up to 15 people from 15 households. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside and from 19 July, no longer count towards the household numbers indoors.
  • Organised sport/exercise: Clubs and groups can hold organised activities/meets (with COVID officer and measures in place) for bubbles of up to 500 people (adults and children but excluding the leader(s)) from any number of households, however we would still advise limiting groups to smaller sizes to make them easier to manage. From 19 July, you will not need to physically distance outside within your social grouping of up to 15 people at level 0, but you do need to continue to maintain at least 1 metre from all others outside.


Club huts

Club huts allowed to open following relevant sector guidance and rules on meeting other households indoors. See the guidance for clubs for more information.

Working with the BMC Huts Group and the BMC Clubs’ Committee plus other specialists the following guidance has been produced for hut operators and hut users together with an update in relation to the 72hr quarantine period:

For hut operators in Scotland, from 19 July:

In self-catered or other unregulated (unstaffed) accommodation, in-house socialising rules apply (see below) and a bedroom should be occupied by members of only one household (or extended household). 

Level 0:

  • A maximum of 8 people from up to 4 households. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people  or households permitted to meet. 
  • You do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private home or outdoors. However, your gathering should maintain at least 1m distance from all others.
  • In the FAQs for tourism and hospitality Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) it states the following: “While it is advisable for separate households to have their own bedrooms within shared, self-catered tourist accommodation and other tourist accommodation, bedroom sharing is permitted in level zero (from 19 July). Should operators deem the risk is minimised sufficiently and it is safe to open up shared facilities, special care to ensure that shared public spaces, bathrooms and kitchens are kept clean is also advised. Operators may also wish to provide materials and instructions for this purpose.”

 Additional information

  • Car sharing – You should not share a vehicle with anyone from another household, unless you absolutely have to. For further information visit the Transport Scotland website.
  • Camping – Wild camping is permissible - please keep to the guidelines for travel and meeting with others outdoors for the area you live in. If you are considering wild camping please do it responsibly and with consideration for others. Avoid busy areas, follow the current travel guidance and rules on meeting others outdoors, and always keep to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. If you are planning to camp at a formal camp site we would advise contacting them in advance to check they are open and that pitches are available.
  • Bothies remain closed - for more information and further updates visit the Mountain Bothies Association webpage www.mountainbothies.org.uk or Facebook group.

Please read our full guidance for hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers below for full details.

Guidance and downloads 

Guidance for hill walkers & climbers (updated 19/07/21)

Guidance for affiliated clubs and huts (updated 19/07/21)

ABC Guidance for indoor climbing wall operators

The guidance for hill walkers, climbers and clubs in Scotland have been developed in collaboration with the Mountain Safety Group which includes Scottish Mountain Rescue, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge, and the Association for Mountaineering Instructors. The purpose of the guidance is to provide a framework for hill walkers and climbers within the current Scottish Government public health advice and phase of exit from lockdown, and to highlight additional considerations to be aware of in the presence of COVID-19 when taking part in these activities. 

We urge everyone heading out to enjoy the outdoors to be mindful of how their individual actions reflect on the whole outdoor community. The key will be for individuals to take a sensible approach to their activities, use your judgement to manage the risks, and to consider the social responsibility we all have to each other, to protecting our emergency services and to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.

This guidance applies to all visitors to Scotland as well as residents.

Visitor information

COVID guidance for other parts of the UK

Under current Scottish regulations, unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) you must not travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Please check for updates on the Scottish Government website.

Restrictions and advice on what you can do and where you can travel are also in place within England, Wales and Northern Ireland and in the other territories in the Common Travel area, the Republic of Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

  • Mountaineering in England and Wales: For full details of the current COVID guidance for England and Wales, please visit the BMC website.
  • Northern Ireland: For details of COVID restrictions in Northern Island click here.

To keep yourself and other safe you should:

  • wear a face covering
  • avoid crowded places
  • clean hands and surfaces regularly
  • stay 2m away from other people
  • self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste)

Local protection measures are now in place in Scotland - find out more on the Scottish Government website.

Please note that advice from the Scottish Government may differ from that for England and Wales. 

Mountaineering Scotland and ClimbScotland events

We are delivering as many courses and events as we can within the current Scottish Government COVID guidelines, and our summer mountain skills courses and outdoor climbing sessions for young people are now taking bookings. 

See individual event pages for any special arrangements.

Information for Coaches/Leaders

Mountain Training Scotland has also produced guidance for those involved in formally led mountain related activities. This document will also include indoor climbing activities and this is currently in the process of being written and reviewed.

Outdoor access during COVID-19

The current guidance in relation to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 is:

  • Maintain your distance – please stay at least 2 metres away from other people and if possible, try to avoid busy times on popular paths or places.
  • Respect the health and safety of farmers and others working the land – please follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas, such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas.
  • Keep your dog under control – please put them on a lead or keep them close at heel and do not let them approach other people or livestock.
  • Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible, plan a route that does not require you to open gates.

For full details read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 here.

Reporting access issues

If you have any concerns or questions regarding access issue please contact access@mountaineering.scot

Mountain Bothies

All Mountain Bothy Assocation -maintained bothies remain closed to visitors. At present, it seems unlikely that they will be able to re-open until such time as Government guidance permits public gatherings in enclosed spaces without the need for social distancing. The MBA is keeping the situation under close review and if there is any change or indeed any further information that becomes available they will provide further advice on their website and Facebook page.

Mountaineering Scotland was formed 50 years ago to represent the interests of Scotland's hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers, and we continue that work today. With over 14,500 members and 160 affiliated clubs, we are open to anyone who loves to walk, climb or ski in Scotland's mountains.

Membership of Mountaineering Scotland offers excellent value and includes insurance for your mountaineering activities, member discounts and offers, access to great value mountain skills and climbing courses, events and competitions, quarterly Scottish Mountaineer magazine and more: Find out more about our member benefits here

In return you add your voice to our campaigns to protect Scotland's mountain landscapes, safeguard access rights, promote skills and safety,  and encourage people from all walks of life to enjoy the hills, mountains and climbing walls of Scotland responsibly.

Join Mountaineering Scotland