Out and about in Scotland

Are you staying in Scotland for the summer? Are you thinking about getting out and about in the spectacular countryside? You can have a great time and make some fantastic memories walking, camping, doing water sports, mountain biking or just touring around, and so it’s worthwhile being well prepared for your trip or outing.

If you are heading off to somewhere remote remember that the weather in Scotland can be a bit unpredictable so it’s best to have waterproofs and warm clothes in case. Of course it could also be very warm with little shade so sunscreen and a hat could be useful too. Strong footwear is essential for walking on paths and across grasslands.

Right to Roam in Scotland

You should be clear on access too. The so-called ‘right to roam’ is part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced in 2003 to strike a balance between a person’s freedom to roam and respect for private property. It allows members of the public to access most land and inland water in Scotland for recreational or other purposes. This is provided that the right to roam is exercised reasonably and responsibly. Recreational covers a wide range of activities, including camping and picnicking. However, there are limitations to the rule. For example, the right to roam does not apply to land on which there are buildings, or shelters including tents and caravans.

It also does not apply to gardens. Similarly, land where crops are growing is off limits, as are schools and school grounds and land that has been developed into sports grounds. If you are walking in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is important to be respectful of the plants and wildlife as failure to do so can result in a fine.

Learning to use a map and compass is a good idea. With patchy wifi in countryside areas it’s not always possible to use GPS. It’s essential to take enough food and water along as shops can be few and far between. Always tell someone where you are going and when you are due to return.

Swimming in Scotland

If you are thinking of wild swimming never go alone in case you get into difficulty. Bear in mind that water temperatures can be much colder than the air temperature and the cold can cause shock. Wet suits offer some protection. If you are taking part in any water sports, it’s best to check that they are allowed on the stretch of water you are heading to. There may be restrictions on bodies of water within national parks, nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A fishing permit may be required if you were thinking of trying angling. At the coast be mindful of tides so as not to get stranded, and if swimming remember riptides can carry people out to sea.

Be careful if lighting a fire. In dry spells a small fire can turn into a wildfire which can spread across large areas and cause devastation to forests and wildlife. Make sure you extinguish any fires you light and never leave one unattended.

Don’t leave litter-it’s unsightly and can be dangerous to wildlife. Always use any bins provided or take your litter home if there aren’t any.

Helpful guides

If you are driving, it’s also worth bearing in mind that petrol is considerably dearer in remote areas so it’s worth filling up before you leave the central belt.

If the worst should happen and you get into difficulty remember there are bodies who can help. For the hills and mountains there are mountain rescue teams equipped with search dogs, drones and years of experience in finding people and administering first aid if necessary.

The coastguard will assist with rescues around the shores of the country.

You can also help yourself by being prepared for an emergency-some extra food, a foil blanket to protect against the cold, a whistle to attract attention and brightly coloured clothing which makes you more visible to rescuers are small additions which can make a big difference. Before you set off install the what3words app on your phone. This can help rescuers locate your position more easily.

Whatever you are planning to do and wherever you are going this summer stay safe and hopefully the weather will be kind!

Useful websites:

Long distance walks:  https://www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/

Munro bagging:  https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/munros/

Water safety https://watersafetyscotland.org.uk/advice-hub/water-safety-code/



HM Coastguard: https://hmcoastguard.uk/in-an-emergency

Mountain Rescue: https://www.scottishmountainrescue.org/

SSSI guidance: https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/protected-areas-and-species/protected-areas/national-designations/sites-special-scientific-interest-sssis

You can use Box of Broadcasts to view episodes of the Adventure Show and Library Search to find books and articles on wildlife, plants, first aid and land law.

You can read more about Scotland

By Vivienne Hamilton

Photo source Claudia De Wet