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Coronavirus update 5 Jan 2021

Latest regulations and how they affect your visit to the Regional Park

Local authority boundary map



Government stay-at-home advice

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. All LA areas in this area are currently in Level 4.

Government advice is that "To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible.  By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose". You can read more here 

We strongly advise NOT driving to the Regional Park in the current period, due to 1) current advice to stay at home as much as possible 2) the risk of crowds gathering / bad parking limiting access for emergency services and farm machinery 3) the dangerously icy conditions.

Please do not put our emergency services under strain.  

There are limited exceptions to the stay-at-home advice. You can partake in "local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 2 people, plus any children under 12, from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area).  The number of periods of exercise are not limited." Read more Government guidance on travel and transport here.


Meeting socially outdoors

The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is two, from up to two separate households. This means you can only meet one other person from another household outdoors. Children under 12 do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather outdoors.


Explore your local greenspaces

We know the Pentlands are a fantastic resource for exercise and getting away from it all. Under the current guidance we’re being asked to stay local again. It is likely that the car parks will be under a lot of pressure. If you haven’t already discovered the wealth of outdoor space in your local area please use the links below to discover what parks, woodlands, waterways, walks and cycle ways are close to you:


Parks and Greenspace

Walking and cycling

Check out this map of Edinburgh's parks.


Parks and Greenspace

Walking and cycling

West Lothian:

Parks and Greenspace

Walking and cycling


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 (see above), 3) Flotterstone is a crucial area for sheep farming and there have been numerous reports in recent weeks of dogs worrying sheep, with owners subsequently being charged. It is not an ideal place to walk your dog.


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. You can only meet one person from one other household (plus any children under 12).


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. There has been some discussion as to whether the 5 mile limit is "as the crow flies", or "driving milage". We take the view that you should not drive further than five miles from the Council boundary. If clearer guidance is released from Scottish Government we will update this advice.


Q. I would like to run all the main hills in the Pentlands in a single day, starting and finishing at Carlops (Scottish Borders). I live in Roslin (Midlothian). Can I do this?

A. Yes.  Carlops is less than a mile over the border from Midlothian. However, you should be aware that travel is strongly discouraged, and we are being asked not to put our emergency services under strain.  You should be fully trained in / have experience of surviving adverse mountain conditions.


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, we 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 Saturday, 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 local authority. However, we do NOT recommend this, as we expect ALL our car parks to be full at weekends. Please research green spaces closer to your home (see above): 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: 5th January 2021