Hillgoers obeying the rules should not be put off calling mountain rescue. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Hillgoers obeying the rules should not be put off calling mountain rescue. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Mountaineering Scotland said hillgoers north of the border will not be at risk of being fined if they need rescuing – as long as they have adhered to lockdown rules.

The organisation sought to reassure climbers, hillwalkers and mountaineers after an incident on Saturday when Police Scotland charged two people with culpable and reckless conduct after they were rescued from Beinn a’ Chroin.

Officers alleged they had travelled from their Glasgow home to make the ascent of the 942m (3,091ft) munro near Crianlarich. They added man and woman were not adequately equipped for their venture.

Police also said they had imposed fines on a group of three people who were rescued from The Cobbler in May. The walkers were not from the local area.

Scottish Government phase one regulations state that exercise must be taken in a person’s local area, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suggesting a five-mile limit for journeys to begin the exercise.

Mountaineering Scotland, which has 14,000 members and is the representative body for climbers, hillwalkers, mountaineers and ski-tourers in the nation, said news that two people had been charged with culpable and reckless conduct following the rescue callout at the weekend had been causing concern in the outdoor community.

It said it is working with Scottish Mountain Rescue and Police Scotland who have said to climbers and walkers that if they stick to the phase-one lockdown guidelines they will not be at risk of a fine.

Stuart Younie, chief executive of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “Walkers and climbers who follow the guidance on travel and stay local should have no concerns. We want to encourage everyone who is able to access the hills to make sure they stay safe and are well prepared before they go.”

Chief Inspector Gill Marshall, of Forth Valley Police, in whose area the Saturday incident happened, said: “I would like to reassure outdoor enthusiasts that when the guidance allows the resumption of their pursuits, Police Scotland and our colleagues in mountain rescue teams across the area will be committed to providing support and assistance to those in difficulty, as we always have done.

“In the current climate we must all work together to minimise the risks faced, and we will continue to engage and encourage compliance, with enforcement as a last resort.”

Damon Powell, chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue, which represents 24 of the teams north of the border, said: “Mountain rescue teams are here to help. If people get into difficulties in the hills they should be clear that mountain rescue assistance is provided without cost and without judgement.”

Mountaineering Scotland has coronavirus advice for hillgoers on its website.

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