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Access for outdoor recreation 2021

Wednesday 6th January 2021, 5:40pm

In response to the announcement by the First Minister on Monday and mainland Scotland and Skye moving to Level 4 lockdown restrictions, Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the specific reference to local outdoor recreation as one of the reasonable excuses for leaving home, meaning hill and mountain activities can continue, albeit within certain limits. This is an important recognition of the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors and the relatively low risk of transmitting the virus whilst participating in outdoor activities. However, the new strain of the virus that has emerged means we cannot be complacent and social distancing should be continue to be a key priority as well as following the other F.A.C.T. S advice. Travel restrictions allow movement within your local authority area and up to 5 miles beyond the boundary as long as your exercise starts and ends in the same place, but we are being encouraged to travel no further than is needed to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise.

Our key advice remains consistent with our current guidance, with an emphasis on encouraging everyone to continue to act responsibly, particularly in areas where car parks may be very busy; to respect the feelings of rural and remote communities and to avoid negatively impacting on those living and working in the countryside. We are also mindful that the ability to access to the hills and mountains at this time is not the same for everyone, so if you are able to enjoy getting out and want to share your experience,  please be sensitive to what you might be posting online or on social media.

The new guidance limiting the number of people from separate households who are able to meet outdoors means club and group activity is not possible at this time. During the winter this also creates additional safety considerations, as for adults this means participating in activities either solo or with only one other person, unless you are with people from your own household. In consideration of this change, and the fact that our colleagues in voluntary mountain rescue teams across Scotland are facing additional challenges in dealing with winter rescues as a result of Covid -19, we are emphasising the need to stay well within your limits and suggest that now is not the time to be planning your next big adventure and to use your best judgement to manage the risks to help ensure you keep yourselves and others safe. Make sure and #ThinkWinter !

For the indoor climbing community and all our young athletes unfortunately Level 4 restrictions mean that our climbing walls must close again and our best wishes go out to all those venues affected and  we hope to see you back open again very soon. We will be publishing our updated guidance very shortly and will continue to monitor and update you in response to any further changes. We hope you all keep safe and well, and are able to enjoy some outdoor time over the next few weeks.