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Warning to hill walkers as stalking season steps up

By John Davidson

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More people are enjoying responsible access to Scotland's mountains. Picture: Lorme Gill/SNH
More people are enjoying responsible access to Scotland's mountains. Picture: Lorme Gill/SNH

Scotland’s nature agency, NatureScot, is urging hill walkers to check online for deer stalking information before setting out during the busiest part of the season.

NatureScot manages the Heading for the Scottish Hills website, which provides details on deer stalking on estates up to late October to help walkers avoid disturbing stalking.

The agency says that while Scotland offers fantastic hillwalking, summer and autumn are also important for deer stalking, which contributes to the rural economy and helps protect woodland and other habitats.

With many more people getting out and about to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer with the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the website helps walkers follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It includes advice on where and when stag stalking is taking place on each estate, provides details on who to contact for more information and includes routes that are ‘always okay’ for walkers.

The access code also encourages walkers to follow reasonable advice from land managers on alternative routes and to avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place.

Fiona Cuninghame, NatureScot recreation, access and paths officer, said: “So many people are enjoying Scotland’s amazing hills more than ever following this difficult year.

“Some people may be discovering the joys of exploring our hills and mountains for the first time, which is fantastic – but it’s also important to bear in mind that this can be a very busy time for land managers.

“Our Heading for the Scottish Hills website is a great resource to help walkers have a great day out without disturbing deer stalking in their chosen area, as well learning about your rights and responsibilities more generally under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”

The information can also be accessed through the Walkhighlands website, with relevant stalking details provided on the page for each walk.

Davie Black, Mountaineering Scotland’s access officer, said: “We have been involved with Heading for Scottish Hills since it started and encourage all walkers to check the website during the stalking season and contact the relevant estate if they have further questions.”

Tom Turnbull, chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups, said: “The Association of Deer Management Groups has been involved with Heading for the Scottish Hills for more than 20 years.

“We would like to see this resource as the ‘go to’ source of information for people taking recreational access in the Highlands of Scotland and are pleased that an increasing number of land managers are signing up.

“Given that we are anticipating and experiencing much higher visitor numbers to our hills this year – and that is a good thing – information such as this is vital so that deer managers can deliver their culls safely and with minimal disturbance.”

Heading for the Scottish Hills was first launched in 2015. Find more information on the website at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/hftsh

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