Mountaineering organisations across Scotland are busy planning the safest route back to the hills…
As we approach the end of week eight of lockdown, mountaineering organisations in Scotland ask the hill walking and climbing community to ‘hold the line’. Avoid travel and stay local for your daily exercise. It’s not time yet to get back to the hills.
Despite an easing of restrictions in England last week, the advice for people in Scotland remains the same. We must stay home and only go out for essential work, food or health reasons. Although, people in Scotland may now go outside to exercise twice daily in accordance with the current Scottish Government COVID-19 guidance.
Walkers and climbers are keen to get back out to the hills and crags. Therefore, Mountaineering Scotland is leading discussions with partners in the Mountain Safety Group regarding 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. These proposals are being submitted to the Scottish Government. They outline how hill walking, climbing and bouldering can be re-introduced.
Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue says, “It is good to be working as part of the Mountain Safety Group to ensure we can get people back outdoors as soon as there is a 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 the Chief Officer of Mountain Training Scotland added: “Prior to lockdown, our leaders, instructors, coaches and guides supported active public participation in walking, climbing and mountaineering. This does so much to support improved health and well-being. Therefore, we are supporting the work of Mountaineering Scotland and the rest of the Mountain Safety Group, to facilitate a phased return to the outdoors.”
Mountaineering Scotland has also taken on board feedback from its members. They have also taken part in discussions with organisations across the Scottish outdoor sector, including sportscotland, outdoor sport governing bodies and the national parks. This ensures that Scotland’s outdoors are enjoyed in a way that considers the safety of individuals as well as rural communities. Further work is ongoing to produce a position statement and more detailed supporting guidance.
“These are unprecedented times,” says Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland. “I’d like to thank Mountaineering Scotland 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 hill walking, climbing and other outdoor activities as lockdown starts to ease. And we have been encouraged by the way the outdoor sector in Scotland is working together to make this happen.”
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