Hill walking

I would very much like for there to be more allowance for exploring the outdoors and resuming hill walking. Along side many others I find much benefit to my physical and mental health with hill walking. Most of the time I have been hillwalking I have found it to be great expanses of space with out much contact with others and so it is an activity well suited to social distancing. I understand some popular routes with easy access can be very busy (Ben Lawers, Schehallion,Nevis) but car parking restrictions could help with this. There are arguments about the risk and possible strain on emergency services but this is an adult conversation and the vast majority of hillwalkers are responsible, and act within their own capabilities. This risk is also to be balanced against deteriorating mental health and the effect of more people trying to exercise in more restricted spaces. If there were restrictions against longer distance travel I personally would abide by them- my munro box ticking will be put on hold, I will walk locally- I just went to stretch my legs, see some scenery and get back in touch with nature.

Why the contribution is important

Because many people get benefits from hillwalking (physical and mental) which is low cost to society at large. Because it naturally falls in line with the principles of social distancing.

by dansimpson on May 06, 2020 at 04:25PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 90 votes


  • Posted by Galaxygirl May 06, 2020 at 17:22

    As a hillwalker i would love to go to the hills right now. If this was permitted though i have no doubt literally everyone, (even those not usually) hikers, would be flocking out there and it would be so busy. Lots more people with little knowledge of hiking would probably end up in trouble, and if parking was restricted cars would as they usually do at hotspots, end up parked all along the roads outside of the designated parking Walkhighlands had already been having a massive increase in web traffic in the run up to lockdown being officially announced
  • Posted by kdubya2307 May 06, 2020 at 17:45

    I think the biggest risk here is to the support services in the event of any accident. Also most people would likely have to travel to allow them to access hill walking and again does this out more strain on other resources.
  • Posted by ElaineRietveld May 06, 2020 at 17:47

    I would also love a hill walk-within a 2 hour drive?
  • Posted by Allie May 06, 2020 at 17:54

    To avoid big crowds at easy accessible hills (such as Pentland Hills), long driving should be allowed to reach hills which are not near the cities.
  • Posted by nbain May 06, 2020 at 17:59

    No to hill walking, not yet.
  • Posted by Gconnal May 06, 2020 at 18:38

    Restrict groups to 2 walking together
  • Posted by ScottBamford May 06, 2020 at 18:41

    I would love to back out to the hills but object to this idea at this stage. It is too early and will encourage travel of large distances and put strain on the mountain rescue teams who are all volunteers. I am sure they would also object to this proposal at this stage. We need to remain close to home for our exercise for the time being.
  • Posted by SteveV May 06, 2020 at 19:23

    Unfortunately it would encourage too many people to travel long distances
  • Posted by CatLawson May 06, 2020 at 19:54

    The risk is to emergency services. Anyone can have a problem in a remote place, and it then leads to volunteer and professional rescuers having to attend. This means social distancing becomes impossible for those attending. There is also the risk that people who are not experienced hill walkers will go out unprepared.
  • Posted by davidrogers May 06, 2020 at 20:02

    Even if car parks are quite full, people arrive and leave at different times. Surely a bit of common sense would prevail. If you arrive and people are getting in or out of their car all you need to do is wait in the car till they have moved off. Or the same when you return. Most people don’t linger at their car , they want to get on the hill or home. Even on popular hills people soon disperse. Why should people not want to keep their distance. They do it in shops. In Scotland it is a rare day when there is no wind, so unless someone deliberately coughs into your face, you are very unlikely to catch enough particles to catch COVID19. Some hills are more dangerous than others. They could be made out of bounds . I suspect that lack of exercise, will lead to a greater demand on emergency services, than the odd person who has an accident on the hills.
  • Posted by theresasheldon May 06, 2020 at 20:16

    Vital to allow Hill walking in this beautiful country where it is enjoyed by many
  • Posted by colinsparling May 06, 2020 at 20:23

    As a rambler and hillwalker for many years the attraction is the isolation. Providing people are sensible avoid large groups travel independently the risk of infection or putting pressure on teh emergency services is minimal
  • Posted by KateDuffus May 06, 2020 at 20:43

    I think that all outdoor recreational and sporting activities should be allowed to resume as long as social distancing can be maintained. Perhaps road travel should be restricted to a certain distance from your home. Guidance should mention keeping activities well within your capability and experience. The argument that this puts rescue teams at risk should be taken alongside the mental and physical health benefits of the activities. I find it frustrating that I am not allowed to go kayaking, even though I live 100m from the sea and can walk there, but I am allowed to use my chainsaw in the garden. I know which is more likely to result in an accident.
  • Posted by Louisaburnett May 06, 2020 at 20:44

    I too have been struggling with not being able to go out on the hills. I use the solitude of the hills (I go out with just my hill collie) helps my mental and physical health. I live in the Highlands, pretty rural, I see the hills all around me and could walk to a few smaller ones, but it would mean walking on the A9. I am walking my collie every day on the local golf course and beach, and we are now in more contact with more people than ever! When I head to the hills, sometimes for a week or more at a time, we see no one! I do understand about the pressure on MRT, I have many friends in MRT, family in the coastguard, friends I the ambulance and fire brigade. I just think that we need to extend the distances for excercise, as it would improve so many mental health!
  • Posted by beatebennek May 07, 2020 at 01:20

    nothing wrong with that, as long as you stay within your capability, not to bring yourself into danger having to call for help. Higher a guide !!!
  • Posted by johncunndainn May 07, 2020 at 07:56

    Back when life was still normal, hill walking didn't cause any problems. Occasionally, someone would need a rescue while still alive. In most cases, this person could be fitted with a mask, to protect the rescuers. There's a low risk the they have Covid if they are fit enough to get away from the road anyway. The problem we will have on release of lockdown is that getting out will be such a novelty, that lots of people will do unsuitable things for a few days until the novelty wears off. There's no way of avoiding this. Timing it for a wet weekend might help!
  • Posted by snapier May 07, 2020 at 11:35

    Important for health and wellbeing, but walkers would have to be considerate on narrow paths and try to avoid the honeypot areas. Car parks would need to have a supervisor, and there would have to be controls to stop parking along the approach roads - eg cones and police checks.
  • Posted by JohnA May 07, 2020 at 13:41

    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 Kml172 May 07, 2020 at 15:34

    Hill walking is an activity that can easily be done with appropriate social distancing. I have walked many hills and mountains and not met a single person. I have walked alone for years with outings lasting many hours. Most hillwalkers are sensible, respect the land and do not take risks. As I grow older I am aware that I need to walk for my mental and physical health. I live in a city. Pavement and hard path walking are bad for the joints. Parks are so busy and frantic that it is becoming very difficult to socially distance or indeed find peace in walking. I am missing the hills dreadfully as I am sure many other walkers are. Please allow hill walking again.
  • Posted by juliewands May 07, 2020 at 15:34

    I would like to see access restored to forestry and rural areas especially where it is less likely that the mountain rescue will be required. I live near the beach in Ayrshire which is now very busy with people walking and cycling so it would make more sense to allow people to spread out to country parks and forest areas, such as Galloway, to make social distancing easier.
  • Posted by Trp May 08, 2020 at 08:44

    I agree we need to open up more spaces for people. It’s difficult with the issue of MRTs but perhaps we still say the mountains are off limits but lower hills with easier paths and access to lochs, forests and lower level areas could be allowed. There is a risk of many areas becoming too busy but people are going to have to learn to be sensible at some point if this isn’t going away. Perhaps limit people’s journeys to 30 min drives from home or whatever distance is sensible to avoid rural areas becoming overwhelmed.
  • Posted by Seimei May 08, 2020 at 10:32

    I think the biggest problem with driving hours to a hill and do longer walks is the need for toilet breaks. As long as there are no designated facilities the "usual" resolution unfortunately poses significant risks. Shorter hillwalks though should be allowed especially if facilities available at the start point and these are open and maintained.
  • Posted by aloneinthehills May 08, 2020 at 11:05

    Totally agree. restore our access to the hills and coastline
  • Posted by auberdjinn May 08, 2020 at 13:49

    I would very much like to have some access to the countryside for exercise in order to maintain my physical and mental health. I understand that people in rural communities are concerned about large numbers visitors spreading the virus, but there is no need to visit a village or come into any contact with locals in order to go hill-walking. People should be encouraged to take their lunch with them and fill the car up before they go. Of course everyone should use hand sanitiser when they get out of the car and before and after touching gates. There should be signs at car parks to encourage this. Parking in villages could be restricted to locals only, except in case of an emergency. Likewise, parking at excessively popular spots should be restricted, and perhaps you could have flyers available at these locations with suggestions for alternative walks if the car park is full. In the longer term, investment in walking infrastructure (toilets, car parks, kiosks away from villages etc) and rural communities (improved healthcare facilities, subsidised shops and delivery services) would make an increase in outdoor activity more sustainable and less risky. Access to the countryside for exercise will ease overcrowding in urban spaces, which may help to reduce virus transmission overall. The increase in the number of interactions caused by people needing help from the emergency services etc. will likely be tiny compared to the reduction in the number of interactions in overcrowded urban parks. Many people do not live in cities entirely by choice, but so they can earn a living. It's an unfortunate fact that most jobs are in cities. Spending time in nature is known to be extremely beneficial to mental wellbeing, and people should not be denied it just because they have no real choice but to live in a city.
  • Posted by auberdjinn May 08, 2020 at 14:09

    I'd like to second the idea that we could have pre-bookable permits for popular trails and car parks, perhaps tied to car registration and only a limited number allowed per car in a certain time period.
  • Posted by JLMBD May 09, 2020 at 13:26

    Mountain Rescue have asked people not to go to the hills. There are always unexpected moments and accidents no matter how careful or experienced you are. MRT members can't both keep a distance and rescue someone. The team has to be made up of several or many people and they don't live together, so every call out is a risk to them and their families. Also the distance travelled is unacceptable in most cases. A vehicle breakdown, buying fuel, shopping for food in remote communities is all a danger to local people that is unacceptable.
  • Posted by LesleyMacKenzie May 09, 2020 at 15:07

    I agree with letting people get back on the hills - yes there are risks of accidents on the hills or driving there but lets get some perspective!..we can only manage risk nor eliminate it.
  • Posted by waxwing May 09, 2020 at 16:13

    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 Powlsa May 09, 2020 at 19:39

    I think walking in country areas is an ideal activity to allow to resume. Except on the very most popular routes it is easier to maintain social distancing than walking the dog around my local estate! There is a small risk of an accident but, as Brian May has shown us the same can happen whilst gardening. People could be encouraged to avoid routes with inherent risk or which are more ambitious than they are accustomed to. There should be minimal risk to locals as the pubs and restaurants are shut. Walkers could avoid local shops
  • Posted by PDee May 09, 2020 at 22:32

    This whole debate is about risk vs. benefit. How many key workers and the public put at risk by potential carriers, including key workers themselves, undertaking shopping, visiting others' gardens, going to the dump, hillwalking etc. The real hotspots are where the numbers infected are greatest - key workers, relatives of those infected etc. Against this, the benefits of having food, seeing relatives, mental health, family harmony. Some modellers somewhere must be working on this !! I hear that there is multi-agency involvement in a rescue but many of the rescues are of those who are ill prepared. But I suspect these aren't where the overall risk is greatest in the bigger picture. And reduce it by introducing restrictions at popular car parks, including checking that walkers are adequately equipped, can read a map, etc. How many rescues will that avoid ? Hopefully even deters some idiots in the first place.
  • Posted by kpm321 May 10, 2020 at 17:23

    I agree. This would be a big health benefit for many, with hardly any infection risk.
  • Posted by Invicta May 10, 2020 at 20:26

    Totally agree
  • Posted by matthew123 May 10, 2020 at 20:27

    Social distancing is easy in the hills, far easier than in supermarkets or many workplaces. If needed put some restriction on numbers of cars parking at particularly popular areas. The benefits to mental health for most would vastly outweigh any increased risk.
  • Posted by JuliaM May 11, 2020 at 08:52

    I would love to return to the hills but not yet. It is difficult to monitor numbers in the hills by car parking restrictions. Many places do not have car parks . Where car parks are closed now, people still turn up & park their cars on the roads. Just look at the pictures of Snowdon pre lockdown of hundreds of cars parked down the main access roads?
  • Posted by Bethany18 May 11, 2020 at 16:56

    It is a very socially distant activity so is safe. In the next phase shops will be opening and contact with others increasing therefore this is definitely a low risk activity in comparison. I would highly recommend it being allowed.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas

Idea topics