Guide to caring for Scotland’s hills & mountains
Scotland has new legislation which came into force in 2005 giving everyone wide ranging statutory rights of responsible access to most land and inland water in Scotland. It builds on Scottish traditions of access.
Responsibilities of Recreation Users
The outdoors is where land managers make a living. It is the home of Scotland’s diverse wildlife and is enjoyed by the many people who live there and visit it. You can exercise access rights responsibly if you:
Take responsibility for your own actions
Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind. When close to a house or garden, keep a sensible distance from the house, use a path or track if there is one, and take extra care at night
Help land managers and others to work safely and effectively. Do not hinder land management operations and follow advice from land managers. Respect requests for reasonable limitations on when and where you can go
Care for your environment. Do not disturb wildlife, leave the environment as you find it and follow a path or track if there is one
Keep your dog under proper control. Do not take it through fields of calves and lambs, and dispose of dog dirt
Take extra care if you are organising an event or running a business and ask the land owner’s advice.
For full details and advice you can read more at the Scottish Outdoor Access Code web site.
In addition, please:
- Make use of public transport and share cars where possible to minimise congestion and protect the environment.
- If going by car, park safely off-road and do not block tracks or gateways.
- Walk along tracks, paths or field edges.
- Use gates and stiles, leaving gates as you find them.
- Avoid damage to any fences or dykes that have to be crossed.
- Respect the needs and privacy of those who live and work in the countryside.
- Avoid disturbance or damage to animals, birds, trees and plants.
- Minimise erosion by avoiding widening paths, cutting corners on zigzags and running downhill.
- Remove all litter and food scraps.
- Refrain from building new cairns or leaving waymarks.
- Avoid pollution of streams or lochs by burying excrement well away from paths or watercourses.
- Avoid making unnecessary noise.
- Keep groups small and act unobtrusively.
- If you come across equipment – leave it. Others may depend on it for work or safety.
- Avoid disturbing farm animals.
- Keep dogs on a lead when crossing enclosed land or on the hills during the breeding season. Avoid taking dogs into fields with livestock.
- Avoid sheep just before and during the lambing season (March to May).
- If you come across deer calves, leave them alone.
- Make sure you are properly equipped and have the skills and fitness necessary for what you want to do in the hills.
- Consider “putting something back” by volunteering for one of the many projects to help maintain paths and the countryside.