ABOVE - RED LINE IS PARK BOUNDARY, BLACK LINES ARE LOCAL AUTHORITY BOUNDARIES
Government stay-at-home advice: STAY AT HOME / Level 4 areas
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 local authority areas in this region are currently under Stay at Home / Level 4 regulations.
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".
We strongly encourage you to think about exercising closer to home, and not travelling to the Regional Park from the City of Edinburgh or other surrounding urban areas 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 amazing choice of parkland within the City of Edinburgh and surrounding towns where exercise can safely be undergone in a physically-distanced manner 4) risk of conflict between increased numbers of recreational users and livestock / wildlife.
There are limited exceptions to the stay-at-home advice. You can partake in "local outdoor informal socialising, recreation, sport or exercise. This can be in groups up to a maximum of 4 people from a maximum of 2 households, plus any children under 12. 12–17 year olds can meet up in groups of up to 4 at a time and are not subject to the 2 household limit. Outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise can start and finish at a place in your local authority area (or up to 5 miles from its boundary). For exercise, you should travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place."
NO CAMPING, FIRES or DRINKING ALCOHOL
Camping is not permitted: it is a legal requirement to stay at home except for permitted reasons.
Drinking alcohol outdoors is not currently permitted. It is against the law to consume alcohol in any outdoors public place, in any Level 4 / Stay at Home area.
If you are concerned about groups or individuals breaking coronavirus regulations in the Regional Park, you can report them to Police Scotland. If you are concerned that their actions will harm the wildlife, livestock or recreational users of the Regional Park, please also let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 07798505301.
Fires are not currently permitted due to the high fire risk (this is not a coronavirus regulation). Fires are not permitted in woodland at any time. Please report fires to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, letting the Regional Park know as well.
Meeting others outdoors
The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is four, from up to two separate households. This means you can only meet one to three other people from another household outdoors, depending on how many are in your own household. Children under 12 do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather outdoors. 12-17 year olds can meet up in non-household groups of up to four.
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 www.edinburghoutdoors.org.uk/
Walking and cycling www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cycling-walking
Check out this map of Edinburgh's parks.
Parks and Greenspace www.midlothian.gov.uk/directory/7/parks/category/19
Walking and cycling www.midlothian.gov.uk/info/200226/walking_and_cycling
Parks and Greenspace www.westlothian.gov.uk/parks-and-woodland
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. While recreation and exercise can start and finish up to 5 miles from your local authority boundary, Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place. 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. Flotterstone is not an ideal place to walk your dog due to the number of sheep in the area. Scottish Government guidance is to travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise - there are several parks in Leith which are ideal for dog walking.
Q. I would like to meet up with three adult friends from two different households to go for a run in Bonaly Country Park. 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 as a group of two to four people from two households (plus any children under 12).
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. While recreation and exercise can start and finish up to 5 miles from you local authority boundary, the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place. Carlops is less than a mile over the border from Midlothian. However, travel is strongly discouraged. We are being asked to travel no further than we need to access a safe, non-crowded place to exercise. Roslin has several appropriate greenspaces. If undertaking such a run in the Pentland Hills you should be fully trained in / have experience of surviving adverse mountain conditions: we are being asked not to put our emergency services under strain.
Q. I live near Kirknewton (West Lothian), and would like to travel to Little Vantage (also West Lothian) to go for my daily walk. Can I do this?
A. While recreation and exercise can start and finish at a place in your local authority area (or up to 5 miles from its boundary) the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place. We are being asked to keep journeys within the area to an absolute minimum. It would be unlikely to be acceptable to drive to go for a walk on a daily basis. Kirknewton has several walks nearby which are easily accessible without driving.
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. While recreation and exercise can start and finish at a place in your local authority area (or up to 5 miles from its boundary) the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place. 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. Please also be aware that our car parks are generally full after 9am on weekend days.
Published: 23 March 2021