Welcome back to Scotland’s great outdoors but be sure to follow the Code

16 July 2020

Scots are being asked to enjoy the great outdoors safely and responsibly by following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code in a new campaign, launching today.

Early analysis of a survey conducted during lockdown in May on behalf of NatureScot, shows that compliance with the Scottish Government restrictions has been good with nearly 95% of the population reporting that they only visited the outdoors in their local area. 

As travel restrictions are lifted, it’s great to see that more people are taking advantage of Scotland’s outdoors as parks, nature reserves and trails become more widely accessible again. But with this comes the very practical challenges of re-opening the places we like to visit and encouraging behaviours needed to protect public health and our precious environment.

The new Scottish Outdoor Access Code advice includes reminders to:

•             Plan ahead, avoid busy places.

•             Follow physical distancing and remember that people might be shielding.

•             Be kind to nature and each other and respectful of local communities.

•             Keep your dog under control, especially on farmland – release your dog if threatened by cattle.

•             Don’t let your cigarette or BBQ start a wild fire – take extra care when it’s warm and dry.

•             Take all of your litter away with you.

However, since restrictions began to ease, there have been increasing reports of antisocial behaviour caused by a small number of people at Scotland’s nature reserves and National Parks, with ugly images of the mess some have left appearing across social media, which NatureScot and others have been quick to condemn.

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive, said:

“We very much want this love affair with Scotland’s great outdoors and nature to continue. But let’s not spoil it for others. We need to be kind to nature and respectful to each other by clearing up after ourselves and taking all of our litter home with us. The scenes of abandoned campsites, burned out trees, human waste, as well as litter, are totally unacceptable and a blight on Scotland’s reputation.”

Around half of the people surveyed said that they expect to take more visits to the outdoors after lockdown than before the crisis. It is also expected that many will replace cancelled trips abroad with holidays in Scotland this year, so you may arrive somewhere to find it busier than expected. The advice from Scottish Government is to have a back-up plan, and if this happens to you, move on and find somewhere quieter and safer.

All of the latest Covid-19 guidance can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website. The website includes information about our rights and responsibilities when outdoors, as well as specific guides for a range of activities, from air and water sports, to hillwalking and wild camping.

Francesca added: “If we all follow Scottish Government advice and the Scottish Outdoor Access code, we will be doing our bit to ensure that Scotland’s outdoors remains beautiful and that Covid-19 restrictions can continue to be relaxed.”