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Scottish Land and Estates calls for people to enjoy Christmas walks with respect for countryside

By John Davidson

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People are encouraged to respect the countryside when out walking.
People are encouraged to respect the countryside when out walking.

Landowners in the region are urging people heading for the outdoors this festive season to respect the countryside.

Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), which represents farmers, land managers and rural businesses, said the next few weeks should be enjoyable for access-takers but reminded people to take litter home, not to disturb wildlife and to keep dogs under control near cows and sheep.

It said walks in the country can be a real highlight of Christmas for many people and appealed for them to enjoy our rural areas responsibly and respectfully.

The request follows high-profile issues of littering, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and flytipping in parts of rural Scotland including in tourist hotspots in the Highlands during the course of the pandemic.

SLE said it expected an increase in visitors to rural areas over the Christmas and New Year period and said it was important to fly the flag for responsible access to avoid farmers and land managers being forced to mount clean-up operations or protect livestock from dogs.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive at Scottish Land and Estates, said: “There is no better place to be at Christmas than rural Scotland – especially if we get the weather to enjoy walks in the fresh air against a beautifully scenic backdrop.

“While this Christmas will be different for all of us, we still expect many to be walking their dogs or exercising in the countryside as they attempt to burn some calories from the Christmas pudding.

Sarah-Jane Laing.
Sarah-Jane Laing.

“Our message on behalf of farmers and land managers is to enjoy our rural areas but remember to do so responsibly and respectfully.

“Cows and sheep will be grazing in fields and it is important that dogs are kept on a short leash in these areas. We would also ask people to be mindful of other types of wildlife and to remember to take litter and other items home when it is time to depart. This year has been difficult for many rural communities and businesses that have had to clean up after inconsiderate visitors.

“Getting out in the fresh air is good for our mental and physical health and wellbeing and rural Scotland very much welcomes access takers – we just ask the public to be mindful to take care in the countryside over the festive period and beyond.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides practical advice to the public about accessing rural areas. For more information, visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot

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