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Coronavirus update 21 Dec 2020

Latest guidance for visiting the Regional Park

Local authority boundary map


The Pentland Hills Regional Park is covered by three different local authorities: City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, and West Lothian. The Regional Park bounds the Scottish Borders to the south.

Government advice is that "to suppress the spread of COVID-19 it is essential that, with limited exceptions, there is no travel to or from areas where higher numbers of people may be carrying the virus."  You can read more about government guidance here


City of Edinburgh, Midlothian and West Lothian council areas are in Level 3. Government advice is that you should avoid any unnecessary travel into or out of your own local authority area. You should not travel between two adjacent areas in Level 3 or above.

Scottish Borders is in Level 1. Residents of these areas should avoid travel to Levels 3 or 4.


All areas around the Regional Park will be in Level 4. You should avoid travel into or out of your council area, and keep journeys within your council area to a minimum.

Exceptions: there is a list of limited exceptions from the guidance not to travel into or out of Level 3 and 4 local authority areas. It should be noted that these should not be seen as loopholes. Travel should be minimised as much as possible. If you are able to exercise outdoors by starting from home, you should do so. Exceptions relevant to the Pentland Hills Regional Park include:

  • local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 6 people from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place 
  • travel locally (within around 5 miles of your local authority area) to reach a place to take exercise outdoors

We understand the first exception implies that your exercise can be of any linear length, mileage-wise, as long as it starts and finishes in the same place and does not involve an overnight stay. The exercise could include the crossing of local authority borders. The first exception should take account of the second exception's travel advice: ie, if crossing into a neighbouring authority, your exercise should start and finish within five miles of your local authority's border.

We would like to emphasise that we are extremely concerned at the potential for overcrowding at our popular car parks, which include Flotterstone, Bonaly, Harlaw and Threipmuir. Please walk, cycle or use public transport if possible (current government guidance is that if you area able to walk or cycle, you should do so, leaving space on public transport for those who need it. Face coverings should be worn on public transport). If you are able to access parkland or greenspace closer to your home rather than travel to the Regional Park, please do so.


Meeting socially outdoors

The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is six, from up to two separate households.


Outdoor access during COVID-19

The current guidance in relation to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 is:

  • Maintain your distance – please stay at least 2 metres away from other people and if possible, try to avoid busy times on popular paths or places.
  • Respect the health and safety of farmers and others working the land – please follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas, such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas.
  • Keep your dog under control – please put them on a lead or keep them close at heel and do not let them approach other people or livestock. We have had disturbing reports of dog attacks on sheep recently. Be aware that land managers can shoot dogs harassing sheep.
  • Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible, plan a route that does not require you to open gates.

For full details read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 here.


FAQs (the below FAQs refer to individuals exercising outdoors, with or without companions. Different regulations apply to organised groups.)

Q. I would like to travel from Leith to Flotterstone to walk my dog. Can I do this?

A. Within the letter of the law, you can, as Flotterstone is less than five miles from the CEC boundary, and travelling for exercise is one of the exemptions. However, you should be aware that 1) Flotterstone car park can be extremely busy 2) there are ample areas to walk dogs closer to home - residents of City of Edinburgh (Level 3) are being asked to avoid non-essential travel if possible. After Christmas Day you should minimise journeys within Edinburgh, so should not be travelling regularly to areas such as Flotterstone, even though they are within 5 miles of the CEC boundary.


Q. I would like to meet up with three adult friends from two different households to go for a run from Bonaly. Can I do this?

A. No. If your three friends live in two different households, and you are in a third one, that is not permitted under current guidance for areas in Levels 2, 3 or 4.


Q. Can I drive to from Fairmilehead (City of Edinburgh Council) to Nine Mile Burn (Midlothian) to go for a walk?

A. No. This would be leaving an area with Level 3 or 4 restrictions to visit another local authority, and start your exercise more than five miles over the CEC/ML border.


Q. I would like to run all the main hills in the Pentlands in a single day, starting and finishing at Carlops. I live in Roslin (Midlothian, Level 3 / Level 4 after Christmas Day). Can I do this?

A. Yes Carlops (Scottish Borders, Level 2) is less than a mile over the border from Midlothian. You should be aware that after Christmas travel is strongly discouraged as all areas will enter Level 4.


Q. I live near Kirknewton (West Lothian), and would like to travel to Little Vantage (also West Lothian) to go for a walk. Can I do this?

A. Yes. However, after Christmas residents of Level 4 areas are being asked to keep journeys within the area to an absolute minimum, so please bear this in mind. It would be unlikely to be acceptable to do this on a daily basis.


Q. I'm looking forward to visiting the Pentland Hills with my family on Christmas Day, and am planning to drive to Harlaw car park from the City centre. Can I do this?

A. According to the guidance you can, as it is within one Level 3 local authority. However, we do not recommend this, as we expect all our car parks to be full early on Christmas Day due to recent recommendations to meet family outside. Please research green spaces closer to your home: Edinburgh is lucky to have more green space than any other equivalent city of its size. Check out this map of Edinburgh's parks.


Published: 21st December 2020