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Data shows most Scots staying local for walks

An analysis of walkhighlands traffic data suggests that most people in Scotland are respecting the Coronavirus travel restrictions when taking their outdoor exercise. There has been a huge shift away from searches for walks in remoter parts of the Highlands, with record people searching out walks close to the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the rest of the central belt.

“We all tend to get discouraged by stories on social media about people flouting the rules and travelling wherever they like,” said site co-founder Helen Webster. “Undoubtedly such people exist, and they tend to generate a lot of noise online. Reading about them on Facebook and Twitter can get depressing. But our traffic figures show that these people are actually a small minority, and that most are sticking to local routes during the current restrictions.”

“There was a huge increase in people wanting to head out walking during 2020 with the pandemic, and we’ve had record traffic – with over 3 million walks downloaded in a month. But when you drill down to see where people are going, the data shows that most are staying nearer their homes just now.”

Helen walking in her local woods

“When restrictions are eventually eased, there is going to be a real shortage of available accommodation in Scotland to cope with the massive demand to get a much-needed outdoors holiday. Many self-catering operators we work with are already heavily booked with people who rolled over their holidays from last year, whilst others are remaining closed.”

Whilst the data shows a shift to walks around cities, there are some interesting quirks too. At normal times, Arthur’s Seat is far and away the most downloaded walk in Edinburgh and the Lothians, but it’s now well down the list, below such lesser-known routes as Cammo Estate. Again, this probably suggests those looking for walks are locals – since, unlike tourists, very few Edinburghers would need to check a website for guidance on a walk up Arthur’s Seat.

Most downloaded walks since Level 4 restrictions introduced:

Most downloaded walks during festive period in previous year:

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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.