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Coronavirus staycationers urged to 'plan your walk, walk your plan' by Police Scotland officers in the Highlands following a spate of incidents of under-prepared hillwalkers being caught out during the Covid-19 pandemic

By Philip Murray

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Hillwalkers have been urged to stay safe.
Hillwalkers have been urged to stay safe.

POLICE in the Highlands have urged the public to "plan your walk, walk your plan" amid concerns over people hitting the hills dangerously under-prepared during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With international travel massively restricted, people in Scotland have been staycationing more than ever – prompting parking woes and littering problems in Highland communities.

Some people have also been heading into the great beyond without appreciating the risks of being caught out on the mountains, having had little experience of hillwalking before.

And, to keep people safe, Police Scotland's mountain rescue officers have urged people to make sure they are properly prepared.

Sergeant Peter Lorain-Smith of Police Scotland's Mountain Rescue Team stressed that people need to "plan your walk, walk your plan".

He said: “If you are thinking of heading to our beautiful hills and mountains, it is important to be prepared by planning the route you are going to walk and having suitable equipment and clothing, as the weather up in the hills can change quickly.

"Unfortunately we have come across examples recently of walkers not being prepared for the walks that they are undertaking, including people being on the hills without maps, torches or basic survival gear, or the skills and knowledge to use them. The message remains simple–- come to the hills and enjoy them, but be prepared for all eventualities and don't go beyond your ability.

“We do not want to put anyone off enjoying the great outdoor activities we have here in Scotland but we would ask that people plan their routes, take sensible precautions and consider whether it is safe to climb a particular route. The environment of the Scottish mountains is by its very nature an unpredictable one and it is important that people take as many precautions and plan ahead as much as possible if they are going to go climbing.

Hillwalkers have been urged to stay safe.
Hillwalkers have been urged to stay safe.

“If you do find yourself in need of assistance in the mountains because of being lost or injured then please remember to phone 999 and ask for Police then Mountain Rescue, you will be helped, however, because of the COVID-19 restrictions and volume of calls, it may take longer than normal for us to get to you.”

"It is also very important to have respect for the Outdoor Access Code, particularly as it relates to where and when not to park, on what can often be narrow and somewhat crowded roads at this time of year. Emergency vehicles can require access to almost anywhere and a badly parked vehicle could hinder emergency access. Use designated parking areas where possible. Details of the code can be found at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot ."

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