Acessing the hills and mountains by car

The British Mountaineering Council recently published a plan of action for people getting back out into the hills for walking, climbing and mountaineering, which is a very sensible publication. Statistically, hillwalking and climbing combined are the most popular form of recreational exercise in the country. And in terms of risk, climbing, walking and mountaineering are the safest activities in the UK, with jogging, cycling and team sports resulting in far more injuries for participants. So given that the activity is inherently safe, then my proposal is that car or bike based access to the hills and mountains of Scotland be allowed when the time is right. Travelling by car isolates us from crowds of people on public transport, and if fuel and food etc are purchased before leaving town, there's no need to put any strain on local, rural economies. Perhaps a limit of 150 miles of travel could be applied, and obviously strict social distancing measures should be followed at all times. The beauty of the outdoors in Scotland is its vastness, so it's very unlikely that walkers and climbers are going to find themselves pushed together into crowds or bottlenecks, although parking areas in popular locations like Glencoe may need to be 'managed' to ensure people park sensibly and stay spaced out. I personally would also be happy if some kind of 'access fee' were put in place to support these local communities who are suffering from the lack of tourism etc. Say a permit, bought online, a bit like the Trossachs and Loch Lomond camping permits.

Why the contribution is important

Climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering are an integral part of so many people's lives in Scotland, benefiting both our physical and mental wellbeing. Mountain based activities are also an integral part of the national character of Scotland, with the desperate need to return these activities, which are so beneficial to local, rural economies.

by AshtonEaster on May 08, 2020 at 04:59PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 40 votes


  • Posted by kedra May 08, 2020 at 17:16

    As it's commonly the Scottish weather that catches people out in the hills or snowy ground conditions, avalanches and short winter days I suspect summer hillwalking is statistically very safe. I think that partly this isn't currently allowed because it would give the perception that it's okay to be out and going about business as usual but people need to be trusted more than that, if we can manage it in Tesco then surely we can follow subtleties of guidance and maintain social separation in the wilderness.
  • Posted by slesniewska May 08, 2020 at 17:22

    It is impossible to maintain social distancing in big cities, especially in densely populated poorer areas and being able to get away and access some recreational areas where social distancing is easier would definitely be beneficial.
  • Posted by home_working_with_small_kids May 08, 2020 at 17:25

    There are a large number of people who would really benefit from time in/at Scotland's hills, glens and crags. We now know a lot more about the wellbeing benefits of time in these environments, particularly for mental health benefits. The risks of contact with others is low if people stay away from popular spots (which most experienced hill walkers and climbers would do).
  • Posted by tkennham May 08, 2020 at 18:21

    What can possibly be wrong with walking alone or with family group in the wide open spaces of the hills and mountains. As far as I am concerned I will happily keep 20 metres from anyone I meet. Impossible in a supermarket.
  • Posted by Dins May 08, 2020 at 19:17

    Freedom to walk and enjoy the hills and mountains is a great idea. Fresh air exercise and easy social distancing makes it is a safe choice
  • Posted by happyjolucky May 08, 2020 at 21:07

    While I agree with this in principle, I'm concerned about the pressure this would put on Mountain Rescue teams. With an increase in less experienced walkers and climbers going out due to more time on their hands during this period, but unable to go with a more experienced friend or as part of a club or group, we could see many potential accidents. Scottish weather can be inclement during any season so it's not to say that just because it's summer it's safe.
  • Posted by cobweb4moth May 08, 2020 at 22:54

    I completely agree, the benefits in relation to mental health and wellbeing can't be underestimated. I am working Monday to Friday and long to get out into the hills. I can understand concerns about mountain rescue, but it is all about risk assessment and choices . There are thousand s of people out walking each year in the summer and the number of people needing rescued is small in comparison. Give people a chance to be adult about it .
  • Posted by lmp123 May 09, 2020 at 06:54

    I have an elderly dog who walks well in the forest but walking on the roads/pavements where I live causes him pain in his legs. I totally support that for not just the well being of us humans but also our canine companions that travel to to the hills and forest should be supported sooner rather than later.
  • Posted by Jonathan19 May 09, 2020 at 10:12

    This should have always been allowed, encouraged, even, because it decreases the transmission risk if people exercise in more spacious areas.
  • Posted by DervalDam May 09, 2020 at 17:36

    To take a car... That car needs petrol, so the petrol station needs more staff to sell it, to get to their work, the staff need to go in a car that needs petrol, or more usually public transport as the staff in shops on minimum wage haven't the resources for servicing cars, so bus drivers doing an excellent job transporting key workers are now also having to transport staff who are jeopardising the lives of others for a day out hillwalking... Not to mention accidents in cars happen, breakdowns happen, etc, etc, etc Stay home, use your local supermarket and go a walk round the block.
  • Posted by JLMBD May 10, 2020 at 19:13

    What could possibly go wrong? someone asks. Like no one ever trips and breaks a leg and has to call for rescue, no one ever gets lost and has to call for rescue, no one breaks down on the way and has to call for recovery. Mountain Rescue have asked people not to go to the hills for a good reason. It's too soon and the risk to ordinary volunteers and emergency services is unacceptable under the current circumstances. Wait till the time is right.
  • Posted by JuliaM May 11, 2020 at 08:44

    Would love to travel to the mountains but the time is not right. We should not be travelling to other areas of the country, yet. I could choose a remote spot but, more likely, there is a risk that honey pots in the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond etc are inundated as those are well-known & frequented places (as Snowdon was inundated just before lockdown). I would like to return to local hills within a short drive.
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