The groups are looking at a responsible re-opening of Scotland's mountains. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The groups are looking at a responsible re-opening of Scotland's mountains. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Mountaineering Scotland said it is leading discussions about how people may be able to return to the hills in a phased way.

It has produced, with other outdoor organisations, proposals for a responsible re-opening of the nation’s mountains.

At present, advice for outdoor enthusiasts north of the border is to continue exercising locally.

Unlike England, where people can now travel to locations to exercise, regulations in Scotland prevent this. Earlier this week, rules were relaxed slightly to allow unlimited outings for exercise per day.

In the meantime, the organisation, which represents hillwalkers, climbers, mountaineers and ski-tourers north of the border, said outdoor enthusiasts should ‘hold the line’ and avoid travel for their exercise.

A spokesperson for Mountaineering Scotland said: “Walkers and climbers are keen to get back out to the hills and crags, and Mountaineering Scotland is leading discussions with partners in the Mountain Safety Group on how to deliver a phased return to the hills and mountains.

“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 hillwalking, climbing and bouldering can be re-introduced.”

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 said 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, to allow people to enjoy Scotland’s outdoors in a way that considers the safety of individuals as well as rural communities.

Work is continuing to produce a position statement and more detailed supporting guidance, it said.

“These are unprecedented times” said Stuart Younie, chief executive of Mountaineering Scotland, “and I’d like to thank 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 hillwalking, 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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