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Testing time for mountaineers

Friday 19th June 2020, 3:31pm

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the positive news about the progress Scotland has made in suppressing the Coronavirus, however many walkers and climbers are expressing frustration at the continued restriction in travel and that many rural car parks remain closed under Phase 2 of the exit from lockdown.

Mountaineering Scotland has almost 15,000 members who take part in hill walking, climbing and back-country skiing, and is a voice for those who enjoy recreation in Scotland’s hills and mountains – and is concerned that whilst travel continues to be limited to a five-mile radius from home to take part in recreational outdoor activity, there appears to be more flexibility to travel for other reasons.

Mountaineering Scotland’s CEO, Stuart Younie, said “We appreciate the very difficult decisions which the Scottish Government are having to make to manage what is still a very serious health emergency, and we welcome the way it has championed the health and wellbeing benefits of exercise and being outdoors throughout lockdown.

“While a lucky few who live within five miles or so of mountains have been able to restart their activities in Phase 1, that option remains closed to the vast majority, especially those living in the Central Belt. We wrote to the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing asking them to consider some further relaxation of the travel restrictions in Phase 2, and we know many of our members will be disappointed this has not happened.”

He said that the outdoor community had so far taken a very responsible approach to the COVID-19 crisis in refraining from their normal activities and have played their part in helping minimise the spread of the virus, but the concern now is that where people fail to understand the rationale for some aspects of the guidance they are less likely to respect it.

“It’s difficult for our members – and other hill walkers and climbers – to put these activities, which are so important for their physical and mental wellbeing, on hold whilst travel is allowed for other purposes. We look forward to more positive news as we move into Phase 3, and hope walkers and climbers will continue to be safe and responsible over the coming weeks, until that time.”

Guidance for hill walkers and climbers in Scotland during Phase 2 is available on the Mountaineering Scotland website.