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Hill walkers and climbers frustrated at continued five-mile travel limit

By John Davidson

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The hills remain too far from home for most Mountaineering Scotland members.
The hills remain too far from home for most Mountaineering Scotland members.

Mountaineers and hill walkers have expressed frustration at the continued travel restrictions as Scotland moved into phase two of lockdown easing.

It means that people can still only travel up to five miles for recreation and leisure, keeping people from many urban areas off the hills.

Mountaineering Scotland says it welcomes the positive progress made in suppressing the coronavirus but said it was concerned that there appeared to be more flexibility to travel for other reasons.

The organisation, which represents 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, also said many rural car parks remained closed.

Mountaineering Scotland’s CEO, Stuart Younie, said: “We appreciate the very difficult decisions which the Scottish Government is 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 one, 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 two, 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 three, 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 two is available on the Mountaineering Scotland website at www.mountaineering.scot/coronavirus

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