Be prepared on return to busy hillsides
With travel restrictions eased on April 16, hillwalkers are being urged to make sure they are properly prepared and ready to be flexible in their plans.
Mountaineering Scotland, which represents outdoor-lovers across the country, welcomed the earlier-than-expected relaxation.
The group’s chief executive officer Stuart Younie said: ‘The last 12 months have demonstrated how important outdoor recreation is for our physical and mental wellbeing and as things start to ease it will play an important role in our economic recovery, particularly in rural areas.’
Popular destinations are expected to be very busy, meaning walkers and climbers travelling by car may have to set off early or consider going somewhere less busy.
Mountaineering Scotland also advises that to get the most out of their day, people should think carefully about the conditions they are likely to meet on the hill.
Snow still lies extensively on the higher hills and fluctuating temperatures have meant much of it is likely to be very icy and the consequences of a slip more likely to be serious. That caution is particularly relevant in the mornings on north or north-east-facing slopes.
Heather Morning, mountain safety advisor for Mountaineering Scotland, said: ‘An ice axe and crampons to cope with icy stretches are still essential items of kit at this time of year.
‘People should also be conscious that, with limited opportunity to climb in the hills over the last few months, they may have lost some hill-fitness and may prefer to take on easier walks to begin with so they can ease themselves back into the swing of things.’
It is also important to act in a responsible manner while enjoying access to the hills, especially with the extra pressures due to higher visitor numbers.
‘We’ve all been through a stressful few months,’ Stuart added. ‘So we should be considerate of residents and fellow visitors, whether that’s by parking considerately, making sure we leave no litter or damage or just in interacting with others. If we all take care and look out for each other, we can make sure our long-awaited return to the hills is memorable for all the right reasons.’