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Our month: Mountaineering Scotland in May

Friday 28th May 2021, 3:51pm

Welcome to the first of a regular series of round-ups, outlining what Mountaineering Scotland has been up to each month. Some of what we do makes the news and some you’ll learn of through social media, but there’s also a lot of behind the scenes activity which never makes the headlines but nevertheless has an impact on our activities and landscape.

The big news this month was the launch of Sofa 2 Summit.

Devised with an eye to the number of people inspired by social media and the easing of lockdown to head for the hills for the first time, it is a free seven-week induction course to the hills of Scotland, drawing on the knowledge and experience of Mountaineering Scotland’s own staff and other experts in the field.

Through videos, downloads and text, participants will be able to learn about planning, clothing and kit, finding their way around in the mountains and even something of the nature and wildlife they might come across.

Find out more about Sofa 2 Summit and how to sign up for the free course.

Still on the safety message, we issued a widely-used press release this week, reminding people heading for the hills that, although the forecast is at last improving, there’s still a lot of snow in the higher hills and proper preparation should be made.

Read the press release here.

The improving weather – and the relaxation of travel restrictions – has meant a lot more people getting out and about, which hasn’t been without its issues in terms of access.

This month we received two complaints from members about landowners attempting to verbally obstruct them enjoying their activity. One incident involved walking past cottages to get into the hills to go camping, where they were told that the land was private and they couldn’t go there. The other involved a crofter haranguing climbers who were enjoying a training workshop on the shore. The police were involved and agreed that the climbers were within their rights to climb there. Both cases were referred to the local Council Access Officer.

Three incidents of locked gates and high deer fencing were recorded: one was a legacy from a hydro scheme, and the other two involved forestry plantations. Again they were referred to the appropriate local Access Officer for the Council to uphold our access rights.

In planning and landscape issues, this month we recorded three separate windfarm proposals. One was for 26 turbines 200m to blade tip height, one for 17 turbines 180m bth, and the other for eight turbines 220m bth. To give you some idea of what the heights mean, the Clyde windfarm by the M74 at Abington has turbines around 125m bth. One of these schemes, after much deliberation, merited an objection due to near proximity (3 - 8km away) to a curve of seven Donalds (summits over 2000ft) in the Lowther Hills.

There has been plenty action on the rocks this month, with Real Rock sessions providing an intro to climbing outside for competent young indoor climbers. Sessions in the Central Belt, North-East and the Highlands have helped young people with movement technique on real rock, technical skills, footwear and equipment.

And finally, a reminder to all members about our latest member survey. Directors have started work on the review of our current strategy and the development of a new plan that will help guide Mountaineering Scotland through to 2025. We are asking members of Mountaineering Scotland to take part in the 2021 member survey and give us their thoughts and feedback to help shape the future of the organisation.

We’re looking to collate the opinions of more than just our existing members though, and will shortly be following up with a survey open to non-members to let us know their views.