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Mountaineering Scotland and the Mountain Safety Group plot route for a safe return to the hills – once restrictions allow


By John Davidson

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Hill walkers and climbers are being urged to continue to follow advice from the Scottish Government to avoid travel and only exercise from their homes.
Hill walkers and climbers are being urged to continue to follow advice from the Scottish Government to avoid travel and only exercise from their homes.

Mountaineering organisations are helping to develop a safe route back to the hills but have urged enthusiasts to 'hold the line' for now.

The groups are asking hill walkers and climbers to continue to follow official advice from the Scottish Government to avoid travel and stay local for their daily exercise.

They warn that despite an easing of restrictions in England this week, the advice for people in Scotland remains the same – stay home and only go out for essential work, food or health reasons – although people in Scotland can now go out to exercise more than once a day.

Mountaineering Scotland – the organisation representing hill walkers, climbers and ski tourers in Scotland – says it understands that walkers and climbers are keen to get back out to the hills and crags, and it is leading discussions with partners in the Mountain Safety Group on how to deliver a phased return to the hills and mountains.

These are unprecedented times and I’d like to thank Mountaineering Scotland members for keeping to the current guidelines

This group of key mountain safety organisations, including Scottish Mountain Rescue, Police Scotland, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, has developed proposals this week which are being submitted to the Scottish Government outlining how mountaineering activities such as hill walking, climbing and bouldering can be reintroduced.

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue said: “It is good to be working as part of the Mountain Safety Group to ensure we can get people back out into the outdoors undertaking their preferred activities as soon as there is a safe and responsible way to do so within the Scottish Government guidelines.

“We hope to see everyone out there soon, but preferably not on a rescue!”

George McEwan, chief officer of Mountain Training Scotland, added: “Prior to lockdown, our leaders, instructors, coaches and guides supported active public participation (both voluntarily and professionally) in walking, climbing and mountaineering, which does so much to support improved health and wellbeing.

“As we look forward to reactivation, we are supporting the work of Mountaineering Scotland and the rest of the Mountain Safety Group to facilitate a phased return to the outdoors which is both safe and socially responsible.”

Mountaineering Scotland says it has also taken on board feedback from its members and discussions with organisations across the Scottish outdoor sector, including sportscotland, outdoor sport governing bodies and the national parks, so that everyone can enjoy Scotland’s outdoors in a way that considers the safety of individuals as well as rural communities. Further work is ongoing to produce a position statement and more detailed supporting guidance.

Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “These are unprecedented times and I’d like to thank Mountaineering Scotland members for keeping to the current guidelines.

“We know it’s been a challenge but it’s great to see the mountaineering community pulling together in this way. We want to see an immediate return to hill walking, climbing and other outdoor activities as lockdown starts to ease, and have been encouraged by the way the outdoor sector in Scotland is working together to make this happen in a safe and responsible way.”


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