Walkhighlands and Coronavirus

Coronavirus pandemic

At the current time you must:

Stay Home

The above box is shown across Walkhighlands. This is the message from the Scottish Government, and relates to the advice that applies in Scotland. It will be updated when the advice changes. Advice and the law may be different in different countries and should be respected; Walkhighlands ia a website about Scotland.

Please note additionally that many car parks usually used by walkers are currently closed.

Current Scottish Government guidance

You should stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave the house for very limited purposes, for example:

• shopping for basic necessities (such as food and medicine) and at other shops that are open
• exercise and other outdoor activity alone or with members of 1 other household at a time (but see travel section below)
• to use outdoor spaces for other recreational purposes, for example to sit or relax alone or with members of 1 other household at a time
• to ensure basic animal welfare needs are met, including taking dogs out when necessary
• any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
• travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
• to access recycling or waste disposal services, for example, local authority household waste recycling centres

When doing these activities, you should ensure you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Travel for exercise, recreation and to meet friends and family outdoors

You should avoid crowded places where physical distancing may be difficult. For this reason, our advice is that you should stay within your local area when you go outside for exercise or other activities.

As a guide, rather than a fixed limit, 5 miles from your home would be within your local area. This is to reduce the risk that places such as beaches or popular beauty spots could become crowded and make physical distancing harder to maintain. For that reason we would not encourage the re-opening of car parks that are currently closed, other than a phased re-opening to support local travel.

You should use your judgement - if somewhere is likely to be busy, you should avoid going there - and if you arrive somewhere and it is busy, alter your plans and consider going somewhere else that is quieter. You should also not travel to places for exercise or recreation where you would need to travel by ferry.

If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to travel beyond your local area to maintain your health, then you can do so. For example, this could include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space.

If you have a disability and need to travel a bit further to appropriate outdoor space where you can enjoy outdoor space, or exercise or participate in an outdoor activity safely, you can do so. For example, if you use a wheelchair you can travel to a location that has accessible parking and level access.

It is acceptable to travel outside your local area to meet members of another household in an outdoor space such as a private garden, but you should use your judgement about how far to travel. Keep in mind that the purpose of the continuing restrictions is to prevent the transmission of the virus, including to those we care about.

For this reason, you should avoid long journeys that would require you to use indoor facilities such as toilets while away from home, as the risk of transmitting the virus is greater indoors, and the virus could be transmitted by or to you when you touch surfaces.

Non-essential travel to and from the islands continues to be discouraged to prevent spreading the virus to more remote communities and ferry capacity will remain restricted: where a visit to a family member is essential, please limit the number of visits to the absolute minimum.

Exercise and activity

Meeting outdoors with members of more than 1 other household at a time for outdoor exercise or activity is not permitted.

This means that events such as organised races, walking club trips and cycle club rides that would involve people from more than two households are not permitted.

If meeting people from another household, you should meet only in small groups - no more than 8 people in total at a time, and you should not meet people from more than 1 other household each day.

You should use judgement and take part in any activity only if you can do so safely, maintaining physical distancing and not putting yourself or others at risk. It is important to plan in advance and not take unnecessary risks that may result in the need for medical care or emergency services support. Participants are advised to consult the safety guidance for each individual activity prior to taking part.

This supercedes all previous advice, and is taken from the Scottish Government.

What do Scottish Mountain Rescue say?

They have issued a Question and Answer page as follows:

Can I visit the Scottish Mountains again? If you are lucky enough to meet to the Scottish Government travel guidelines for Phase 1 (Permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but advice to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within 5 miles) and travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible. Nicola Sturgeon says the government is asking people to "stay fairly local". Five miles is not going to be a strict limit, she says, but is intended to provide a guide. "What we don't want is for people to congregate in tourist hot-spots," says the first minister.)

Then yes, welcome back!

When will people from further afield be allowed to visit the hills?
We don't know, that is down to the Scottish Government travel guidelines but we really hope it won't be long and will continue to work with other national organisations to ensure we can see you in the hills just as soon as it is safe to do so.

Are we back to normal when we visit the hills?
No! We need to work together and remember what we are trying to achieve to make this work. Particularly at this stage when so many still can't access the hills. If you do live near enough remember how lucky you are.

Are SMR teams responding to callouts?
Yes, a lot of work has gone in to new procedures to try and make callouts as safe as possible for our team members and casualties. We also now have an adequate stock of basic PPE for a few rescues for each team. Though to be honest we are slightly nervous, particularly if we get a sudden rush of rescues at any point, we may then struggle to cope.

Should I feel guilty if I need to call MR?
No, accidents happen, we would be concerned if you didn't call us. We are here to help, not judge.

Remember in an emergency in the outdoors call 999, ask for Police, then Mountain Rescue

Are rescues the same as before?
No, they will be much slower, with fewer people, less helicopter support, more walking and carrying for us and on some occasions we may decide that we can help by phone only.

What can I do to help make it work?
Self reliance. Plan your day carefully, stick to the type of days that you know you have done safely for several years already. Be sensitive to any local community you are visiting, they are also worried.

What activities can I undertake in the hills?
"Non contact outdoor activities", hiking is specifically mentioned as an example. We understand “ contact” to refer to physical contact with other people.

Do I need to take any extra equipment?
You may well have to wait for longer than we would normally like for a rescue, so group shelter or survival bag, extra warm clothing and food are a good idea. Assume you will be out overnight if that helps to plan, although we hope it won't be the case. Also a small hand sanitiser, face covering such as a buff and thin rubber gloves could be added.

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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.