Allow access to outdoors

Driving to a hill, going hillwalking and driving home again needs no social contact. There is no need to social distance when you're on a Scottish mountain in the middle of nowhere on your own. Allow people to access the outdoors, it's as far from risky supermarkets, workplaces, crowded city exercise areas and care homes as it's possible to be.

Why the contribution is important

Because people need a return to normality, people need to know that restrictions are in place for a reason and when there is no reason to have a restriction the restriction is lifted. Otherwise the whole system of adherence breaks down. Carrot and stick. Stick doesn't work.

by Fifer72 on May 05, 2020 at 01:41PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.8
Based on: 166 votes


  • Posted by Ghart May 05, 2020 at 13:59

    This will need open car parks. Some are currently shut
  • Posted by Margaret0308 May 05, 2020 at 14:06

    Totally agree - restrictions that make no sense undermine the whole lockdown
  • Posted by wraightshepherd May 05, 2020 at 14:06

    Spreads load of outdoor exercise from congested urban areas
  • Posted by alloha May 05, 2020 at 14:08

    Great idea. Very sensible for the reasons mentioned.
  • Posted by Kdbarclay May 05, 2020 at 14:27

    Completely agree
  • Posted by adam309 May 05, 2020 at 14:28

    Fully agree. Requires observance of social distancing in car parking areas. Otherwise far less risky than going shopping or exercising in a busy city park.
  • Posted by Nalcantara May 05, 2020 at 14:33

    A small amount of access to t he outdoors will ease t he pressure on mental health greatly!!
  • Posted by Ruth May 05, 2020 at 14:42

    I would love to bag a munro or two this summer and i fewl desperately sorry for people stuck in cities but we need to stay fairly local so that when this starts to be tracked it can be pinned down. Maybe a 30 mile radius of home? That would get people out of the cities for the day but avoid mass movement
  • Posted by pauldundee May 05, 2020 at 14:54

    Completely agree, the more open space that is available the more people can safely keep at a distance. It is great for people's mental and physical health to get outside especially as we enter the summer. My only concern would be that some idiot will end up lost on a Munro (or somewhere similar) .without proper equipment and need to be rescued, so some limitations might need to be in place.
  • Posted by JaneySue May 05, 2020 at 14:56

    The only risk I can see in opening up countryside is that there will be more traffic on roads and potentially accidents on hills/beaches/ parks. These risks are outweighed by the benefits and will prevent people breaking other rules.
  • Posted by sannadog May 05, 2020 at 15:10

    Going into the hills yourself or with a family member should be encouraged and should be considered low risk. Would also require personal responsibility not to go out in adverse conditions or onto difficult ground where a slip or trip could require assistance from mountain rescue. Should exclude climbing for now!
  • Posted by cwarlow May 05, 2020 at 17:25

    This comment has been removed by a moderator.

  • Posted by scotdavid63 May 05, 2020 at 17:25

    just keep the most popular car parks shut, for now
  • Posted by Rachel_T1502 May 05, 2020 at 18:33

    Great idea for mental health reasons and enabling people to distance from others, agree popular carparks/facilities should probably remain closed
  • Posted by DK May 05, 2020 at 19:08

    Access to the outdoors is essential for many people's mental and physical health and possible with social distancing. The hill going community have shown during this crisis and foot and mouth that we can do so responsibly
  • Posted by RobinW May 05, 2020 at 19:59

    Benefit outweighs small risk, but guidance should still be on low risk activity, and support sought from rescue organisations beforehand.
  • Posted by steves01x May 05, 2020 at 20:26

    Cant see why not - given the volume of people in a super market car park , queue then in the shop i cant see any social distancing arguments for keeping car parks closed.
  • Posted by Southsider May 05, 2020 at 20:40

    Hillwalking and off-road cycling are the ultimate in social distancing exercise. There is an issue with car parking at half a dozen places- Glencoe, Skye, Linn of Dee, Loch Lomond, Fort William and Cairngorm but people always arrive and leave at different times and , in any event, this year visitor numbers will be drastically reduced and the number of international tourists is likely to be zero so it's probably a limited risk of overcrowding. There are lots of other places where parking isn't an issue and people should be allowed to exercise their right to roam , perhaps initially a maximum of 2 hours drive from home, and avoiding using local services. In the absence of mountain rescue services, experienced walkers , and particularly those whose business is guiding, should be able to assess the risks for themselves.
  • Posted by Stephenaitken123 May 06, 2020 at 07:35

    Basic common sense and fully agree.
  • Posted by jgelliot May 06, 2020 at 11:39

    Opening up rual and coastal car parks and allowing their use would not be a risk as not all drivers arrive or leave at the same time. Rows of parked cars do not mean a failure to adhere to social distancing. People are much more aware of social distancing than at the start of lockdown and these areas would allow people to use a greater area at lower density than as now where everyone is kettled into their limited local area.
  • Posted by Janni May 06, 2020 at 15:11

    Agree completely. Not everybody has got the same preferences, and people whould make a choice of different locations so that if one place is full, they can go somewhere else. Closing the most popular carparks will only increase numbers elsewhere and increase frustration. Also agree with jgelliot.
  • Posted by JohnA May 07, 2020 at 13:39

    Outdoor activities (such as hiking) with only members of your household should not increase the transmission rate greatly. You could trial this by putting a restriction on how far you are allowed to travel to access the outdoor space in the first instance and if it goes ok, widen the travel restriction. I think the wellbeing benefits would be great and the transmission downsides small. There is a concern of Mountain Rescue and similar services being under more pressure if this is allowed. You could add some rules that would mitigate this, for example (as with everything in this lockdown, these are mostly self-policed anyway): - Some guidance that only those with experience should be going outside. - Not allowing it on days with a poor weather forecast. - Having a time limit on how long you can go outdoors for. - Requiring all outdoor activities (hikes etc.) to start before a certain time of day. - Limiting access to beauty spots and heavily trafficked trails perhaps by using permits available on a website.
  • Posted by aloneinthehills May 07, 2020 at 14:15

    totally agree. Open the countryside.
  • Posted by ebgt May 07, 2020 at 14:53

    I would settle for being allowed to drive 2 miles to an open area. As opposed to the Police on the ground saying you can't drive to take exercise which is a very literal interpretation of the Governments and their own published advice.
  • Posted by Ossian May 07, 2020 at 16:24

    Agree - there are loads of hills in non-remote parts of the country which could be easily accessed. We need to learn to live with the virus, not merely exist. Additionally the fit and healthy dont seem to be getting ill in the same numbers as the unfit so it really needs to be encouraged.
  • Posted by andrewj May 07, 2020 at 17:01

    Absolutely agree. Current restrictions and pressures to conform are undermining the rest of lockdown and causing resentment. We are also seeing car parks blocked off by landowners who have been too quick to limit access. Emergency organisations have not been overwhelmed so far and are unlikely to be so by removing restrictions on outdoor activities. Scottish MRT should not be stating that 'hills are closed'. This is an essential first step in restoring the rural economy.
  • Posted by gordonadam May 07, 2020 at 18:07

    Broadly agree. With few exceptions, car parks should be opened - as someone said, people come and go at different times and they are far less crowded than supermarket carparks. The benefits of outdoor activities far outweigh the risks, and the chances of spreading the virus is almost zero. Travel to the hills should be opened up at least within the Highlands and Grampian. Police now have the means of checking number plates, so this would be a deterrent to people travelling outwith designated areas.
  • Posted by aloneinthehills May 07, 2020 at 18:29

    Restore access to the hills and coastline for hiking, wild camping and fishing. The health and wellbeing benefits, to a significant proportion of the population, far outweigh the minimal risk of viral transmission from such socially distanced activity.
  • Posted by sandramcgill May 07, 2020 at 19:13

    You should be allowed to drive a few miles locally to take your exercise if it means there is more open space and it makes it easier to socially distance.
  • Posted by kevinadam May 07, 2020 at 21:48

    The reward to risk ratio for country walking and hill walking is justified. Social distancing is easy. Rescues are very rare, especially if people are encouraged to stay well within their capabilities. Life must go on. We are going to be living with this disease for quite some time. Mankind has always had to live with risk after all.
  • Posted by LMStatistician May 08, 2020 at 01:09

    Yes please, strongly agree that the benefits on mental health will should outweigh the risks from increased traffic and the odd person potentially getting into trouble or breaking down. As long as popular car parks are controlled risks should be much lower than shopping for food! My 3 year old begs me daily to go to the beach. In fact, if these activities are encouraged it could be a really good thing for the long term health of the country. Easing up on these restrictions first may lead to lasting beneficial lifestyle changes. People may head to the countryside rather than to the pubs / restaurants / shops etc. We really need a bit of light at the end of the tunnel!
  • Posted by petrav May 08, 2020 at 09:04

    I think it should be restricted to daytrips or wild camping far into the hills (not in campervans on car parks) as opening up campsites means there needs to be interaction between visitors (using the same facilities) and between visitors and the local community (e.g. campsite wardens, cleaners). One issue, however, is that this idea will put pressure on mountain rescue services (and potentially other local services) in case hillwalkers have an accident or get ill - which means interaction with the local community and pressure on local services whose attention, at the moment, should be diverted to dealing with the coronavirus effort and knock on issues in their communities.
  • Posted by susan313 May 08, 2020 at 10:37

    I broadly agree with this but do have some reservations. A drive to a hill or beach for a decent walk could be fairly risk free from transmission of the virus, as long as we continue to do this alone or with another member of our household. However, this is for exercise only and should not be used to gather in groups, have picnics etc. or have access to toilets, cafes etc. Also no overnight camping; we should return home as soon as exercise is finished. Perhaps limit the distance allowed to travel from your home? Finally, we need to limit the potential for accidents, so no scaling difficult mountains or going up in bad weather.
  • Posted by JMH May 08, 2020 at 12:45

    I offer you these two examples of my activities for Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the my own assessment of the risk of exposure posed to me on each of these days: Tuesday – 09:00am – Drive 4 miles to my local supermarket. Queue for 20 minutes, 2 metres apart along with 40+ other people, during which time the gentleman in front of me smoked his way through two cigarettes, the smell of which filled the air, before eventually it was my turn to go through the doors and into the supermarket. Zigzag around the various aisles, passing or being passed by others as we made our way around the one-way system to the check-outs before getting back to my car in a fairly crowded car park. Covid-19 Risk Assessmetn; Medium, I felt reasonably comfortable. Stress Factor: Quite Stressful. I was always watchful and wary of those around me. Wednesday – 09:00am – From a point 2 miles from my home (now how did I get there!) I walked onto my local hill and spent the next 3 hours walking 12kms through woodland and over open moorlands enjoying wonderful views and the lovely bright sunshine. On the circular walk I saw only 5 other individuals, all of whom passed me at considerably greater than 2 metres distance. Covid-19 Risk Assessment: Extremely Low. Stress Factor: Zero. If I am unfortunate enough to catch Covid-19, then I don’t think it would take a member of SAGE or a “tracing” app to say on which of these two days I was most at risk of catching the virus. Please, relax the rules on how and where we can take exercise, and give us some credit on how we manage our own risk assessment – By all means, tighten the laws on gatherings and meetings, but let individuals have a certain amount of freedom apart from going to the supermarket or chemists for essentials.
  • Posted by BeataK May 08, 2020 at 14:07

    Absolutely! We ve done many munros, often seeing only one or two other people during the day. One day trip in our own car with our own sandwiches will not put local community at risk or use their resources in any way.
  • Posted by rodderss May 08, 2020 at 14:31

    Absolutely hillwalking must be allowed.only day trips and within your I live in aberdeenshire so can only travel within Aberdeenshire.
  • Posted by MRCockburn May 08, 2020 at 16:21

    The difficulty is not the walking part but the moving about. People will go to local shops to buy crisps, scotch eggs, scones etc as these will be open in rural areas. This increases the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Posted by Sdiegoli May 08, 2020 at 17:02

    This should have been allowed all along as long as one did not stay overnight anywhere. It is time that we act sensibly and allow people to return to those activities that pose almost no risk to anyone.
  • Posted by Sdiegoli May 08, 2020 at 17:07

    I have noticed a mention that opening the outdoors should exclude climbing. I am afraid but that shows very poor understanding of the hillwalking community. Climbers are for the majority experienced mountaineers and, contrary to what armchair-warriors tend to think, they are has far less accidents prone than Jo Blog that trots up Ben Nevis in slippers. If we want to reduce call outs to mountain rescue, those are the one to watch, not the climbers.
  • Posted by Slaurand May 08, 2020 at 19:38

    I love this idea but I don't see how it's feasible near big cities. Anyone ever been to Balmaha or Ayr on a sunny day?
  • Posted by SkyeMac May 08, 2020 at 22:13

    This dreadful virus provides a great opportunity for people to get CLOSE TO NATURE, and it makes so much sense for folk to be out doors. Go for it.
  • Posted by Corab May 09, 2020 at 10:49

    Allowing access to outdoors will reduce congestion in local parks, reducing transmission rate. Would limit to individual/family/bubble. Rules/guidance on access should be on need to maintain social distancing (for example at car parks), minimising risks taken to reduce potential burden on mountain rescue teams.
  • Posted by LesFraser53 May 09, 2020 at 11:54

    I get it in principle but popular areas could soon become overused so I don't think the time is with us yet.
  • Posted by Shabbyhouse May 09, 2020 at 12:47

    This is a no-brainer and should be acted upon immediately; there's no need to wait. As for car parks, they can be managed to allow sensible distances between cars. Open it up now.
  • Posted by JLMBD May 09, 2020 at 13:45

    Mountain Rescue have asked people not to go to the hills. Many of the people who need rescuing are experienced walkers and climbers who are just unlucky on that day. MRT team members live in separate households and it takes a team to do a rescue and they have to work side by side. Every call out puts them and their families at risk. Every vehicle breakdown puts the rescue vehicle driver at risk. Every accident - and there are some, puts police, paramedics and recovery drivers at risk. Shops in rural areas do not want non local residents in them. The risk to other people is too great to allow expeditions into wild places. The Highlands and Islands communities should not be invaded by people who could carry the virus to currently safe communities. Distance limits are vital. I get that people want to go back to wild places and it is of huge benefit to mental welfare but every trip is an unacceptable risk to others.
  • Posted by tinnishill May 09, 2020 at 15:58

    On the the of 9th of April there was “A statement by Scottish Ministers on what exercising rights of access responsibly under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 means during the COVID-19 emergency.” It contained the phrase “Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible plan a route that does not require you to open gates”. That phrase has been taken up by landowners and local authorities and has had the effect of shutting down the countryside on the edge of towns. Only two days ago my local authority was posting new signs on the edge of town containing that phrase. The phrase is being used to negate the Access Code. Simply walking or cycling from your front door in a small town into the countryside, physically distant from the rest of the population, has been made unnecessarily difficult. The instruction was issued after public lobbying from landowners groups; they are playing the same exclusionary game as in 2001. Landowners are not entitled to more protection than window cleaners or gardeners. This has had a very detrimental affect on public mental and physical health. This guidance of the 9th of April need to be rescinded as soon as possible
  • Posted by andrewj May 09, 2020 at 19:00

    JLMBD - I spent 17 years in a Highland MRT. Every call out, for whatever reason, puts MR team members at risk. This risk is voluntarily accepted. If MRT members do not want to go or believe the risk is too high, they do not have to attend. Sometimes avalanche conditions are extreme or named storms are forecast. Every rescue is an exercise in risk management and the risk from Covid-19 is no different and probably less.
  • Posted by nxc May 09, 2020 at 19:22

    In the days before lockdown, I went walking on my local hills: under 15 miles drive from home, park, then walk. I saw nobody closer than 100 yards, which is fairly normal. I can't see any risk in repeating such visits, it is negligible risk compared to queuing at the supermarket, pharmacy or DIY-shed. In terms of physical and mental health, being allowed on the hills, on foot or bike, should be permitted. If the MRT organisations don't feel safe conducting rescues, then I'm content to go out in the knowledge there is no rescue team and adjust my risk exposure accordingly. If what tinnishill reports about landowners and local authorities adopting a GOML approach, then that's disgraceful, and the guidelines need to be updated to make it very clear that obstructing access is not acceptable.
  • Posted by Mac May 09, 2020 at 19:38

    Thank you for allowing comments. Entirely in support of this. The longer that illogical restrictions go on, the more likely people are to start ignoring them. I can soon go to a garden centre but not for a hill walk?! We all want to beat this virus, but we need to start living with it. We have to accept that starting our lives again will, despite all our best efforts, carry a degree of risk, but trust our fellow citizens they they will behave appropriately, follow guidance and make their own risk assessment.
  • Posted by tapestry7829 May 09, 2020 at 22:56

    I thoroughly agree with this proposal. For the sake of our physical and mental wellbeing the hills should be made accessible again.
  • Posted by OldDeuteronomy May 10, 2020 at 01:22

    Totally agree! You could sprain your ankle in your kitchen/garden/walking downstairs and need to call someone out; there HAS to be a semblance of returning to 'life.' It could well be years before we see any vaccine, treatment, etc. for Covid (which is here and is not going away anytime soon), and if mental and physical health, not forgetting the flailing economy are not to suffer any further, then we need to learn to run a few 'risks' if we are not all to die of old age in the meantime.
  • Posted by Slioch May 10, 2020 at 07:18

    Being socially distant on a hill is almost always very easy but I think the other risks outweigh this advantage. When driving to a local hill to walk the chance of having a car accident is extremely small, but the chance of having a car accident if you do not drive to a hill are nil. The vast majority of hill walkers do not have accidents while walking but even a simple slip that causes only a minor injury on the hill is vastly different to the same injure in the street. Close to home it might involve the attendance of an ambulance and two paramedics with the relevant protective equipment. On the hill it could require a team 6 or more, in a situation where the protective equipment is perhaps not available or difficult to use, and in some situations a helicopter might be needed. This puts a strain on the emergency services in areas where such services are thin on the ground, the MRTs have asked people not to travel to the hills and today the BBCNews website reports an increase in Coastguard rescues since the lockdown. Lifting the restriction will encourage many people to literally head for the hills - some might recall the scenes at Pen-y-Pass a few weeks ago when hundreds arrived - and while getting out would be great, walking in the hills is not an essential, it is a luxury. There is plenty of space to walk close to home anywhere. I live in one of the most densely populated areas of the UK and finding space locally here is easy. I think until we see a sustained week on week reduction in deaths and new cases the restriction should not be lifted.
  • Posted by waxwing May 10, 2020 at 08:35

    Yes, definitely. The number of people injured in road accidents while driving to the hills must be tiny. So is the number injured while walking. The health benefits, both physical and mental, of hill walking far outweigh any work that it will create for the NHS. Also (I know a number of doctors and nurses) hospitals are currently much quieter than usual! Routine operations have largely stopped and far fewer people are turning up at A&E. There is no lack of capacity in the NHS!
  • Posted by conniel May 10, 2020 at 11:42

    Absolutely agree. Good for mental and physical health and far easier to maintain social distancing outdoors.
  • Posted by amanda67 May 10, 2020 at 12:18

    I absolutely agree. Minimal risk having a short drive and walk in the countryside, if you socially distance. I heard an expert on the radio answer the question 'can I drive 1/2 hour to my allotment with my small children, as it is too far for them to walk. 'The answer was NO, unnecessary journey, but you can walk there as part of your daily exercise. Common sense approach needed please, or it just makes folk feel annoyed. Also my husband is unable to do his outdoor survey work at the moment, even though it would be working alone in the countryside. If restrictions are not lifted in this area, he will have to apply for Government funding soon. That will be wasted tax payers money. There must be other people in the same situation, waiting to be able to work safely ,socially distancing ,in the countryside.
  • Posted by johnxsmith2019 May 10, 2020 at 13:32

    Get all car parks open again to allow us to enjoy the countryside.
  • Posted by msand May 10, 2020 at 14:53

    Fundamentally, a sound idea, although parking remains a problem. My concern is those who travel to an area which is (thankfully) unaffected by Covid: If we took our butties and thermos with us rather than buying locally it would help to stem the threat. Yes understand this has the effect of further deflating the rural economy but at we would be all safer.
  • Posted by huntlyquine May 10, 2020 at 17:11

    Need to re-open car parks at popular areas with the advice that if a car park is too crowded, then to park somewhere suitable nearby and a reminder to social distance. People should be alllowed to use their own commonsense.
  • Posted by IM1988 May 10, 2020 at 21:46

    People are missing the point here... It's not the risk of catching or spreading the virus on the hill that is the concern. It's the consequences of a simple slip, trip or tumble would have on local emergency services. 20+ volunteers all squeezing into vehicles or working closely around a casualty, lugging a stretcher shoulder to shoulder. It just takes one of them (or the casualty themselves) to be an asymptomatic carrier and all of a sudden a big chunk of a rural community is effected by the virus. Lack of adequate PPE within the teams means that all 20 of the volunteers have to self isolate for 2 weeks along with all their household. A lot of the team may be key workers and frontline NHS staff now unable to work until tested. The paramedics who meet the team at the road end are unavailable to transport an acutely unwell covid patient to hospital, a team of doctors and nurses are pulled away from other essential work in A&E to tend to your broken ankle. Everything has consequences. As much as it pains me to say it, it's too soon to be returning to the hills.
  • Posted by JulieMc May 11, 2020 at 14:29

    Agree. Allow people to drive up to 20k. Advise people that they should stick to Level 2 terrain to reduce the risk of requiring Mountain rescue callouts. Halt any muir burning (this was still happening a few weeks ago). Ensure landowners and farmers allow access and adhere to the principles of the Outdoor access code. There are many examples of them using these restrictions to prevent access. Reopen Historic Scotland, National Trust, RSPB facilities with appropriate physical distancing for staff.
  • Posted by Alec_Erskine May 11, 2020 at 17:11

    The risks of transmission by travelling by car, and then going walking are absolutely minimal. The benefits psychological are massive. It is clearly sensible to relax all restriction on access to the outdoors. Accident counts are tiny and if they happen, can be dealt with. By not dispersing ourselves in the countryside, and instead packing ourselves into parks and streets for our daily exercise we are probably increasing the chances of transmission.
  • Posted by IMcK May 11, 2020 at 20:42

    I like this idea but am wary of some sites becoming very crowded, undermining the argument of safety.
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