Police and Mountaineering Scotland caution outdoor enthusiasts

A lone walker in scotland's winter mountains
A lone walker looks on at the snowy Scottish mountains (Image credit: Getty Images)

Police Scotland are advising hillwalkers and other enjoying outdoor exercise to take greater care on the hills. The request comes after they received 46 calls for Search and Rescue incidents across Scotland in the past two months. 

Police Scotland said, "Police Scotland’s three Mountain Rescue Teams work in partnership with volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams and other emergency services and have recently had to attend a number of incident where people have travelled out with their local authority areas and required assistance due to ill-preparedness."

For example, on Saturday June 9, a family from Edinburgh travelled to the Biggar area for a walk and had to be rescued with the assistance of police and Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue after their vehicle got stuck in snow. On January 16, four men from Midlothian travelled to Crianlarich in one vehicle to climb Ben More. They had to be talked off the hill via phone and text from the police and mountain rescue team, and also required ambulance assistance.

The snow in the mountains of Scotland this winter season made for "been the best of winters and the worst of winters" according to Mountaineering Scotland. The conditions have been excellent for winter walkers, mountaineers and climbers, but Covid-19 restrictions have left the high mountains out of reach to many.

Stuart Younie, Chief Executive Officer of Mountaineering Scotland said: “There are fewer people about in the hills and mountains because most are adhering to the travel guidelines and tending to choose less busy areas, meaning climbers, walkers and skiers need to be far more dependent on their own skills and resources. The unusually cold start to this year has also brought full winter conditions to the lower hills and paths, which means we have seen skiing and winter walking taking place in areas where we wouldn’t normally see so much activity, especially in the hills accessible from the central belt."

They are encouraging people to consider their ThinkWinter campaign and the skills and preparation required for a winter expedition in Scotland's mountains.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “I fully appreciate that the restrictions affect how we live our lives and spend our free time, however, the best way to stay safe is to stay at home. To protect the NHS we also need to protect our volunteers and emergency service colleagues who, by the nature of their work, put themselves at risk each time they’re called to an incident."

Emily Woodhouse

An adventure writer based on Dartmoor, England, Emily is an active member of Mountain Rescue and a summer Mountain Leader, but loves all things adventure – before her third birthday she had lived on three continents. Founder of Intrepid magazine, she works to help break stereotypes about women in the outdoors. Her expeditions have included walking all Dartmoor’s 119 tors in a single two-week outing, cycling to Switzerland and back, and riding the Rhine from source to sea.