How can I enjoy my visit to the countryside responsibly?
The Pentland Hills Regional Park is unique in being a farming and recreational landscape immediately adjacent to a large conurbation. This is a crucial time of year in the farming calendar and for wildlife in the Pentlands. It has never been more important to comply with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
We are lucky in Scotland to have our rights of responsible access to most land. The most important part to emphasise here is that these rights depend on responsible behaviour. Responsible behaviour during the Covid19 pandemic extends to include the current Scottish Government guidance.
The Scottish Government has set out a five-phased approach towards transitioning out of lockdown. Phase 1 began on 29th May 2020.
During phase 1:
- Stay local – travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible. You are now permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but advice to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within 5 miles). PHRP car parks are small and will have further reduction in capacity to ensure safe distancing and keep vehicles apart from people. Continue to leave the car at home, please consider those less able bodied who may require parking.
- You are now allowed unrestricted outdoors exercise adhering to distancing measures and non-contact outdoor activities in the local area - such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling
- Maintain distancing measures - stay at least 2m away from other people – including people who are working in the outdoors – and try to avoid popular paths or places at busy times. Be prepared to slow down or stop if needed to maintain the necessary distance from others. If you meet other people on a narrow path, pass quickly but courteously, leaving as much space as possible
- Avoid touching surfaces like gates as much as possible – try to plan a route that does not require you to open gates. Wash your hands or gloves as soon as you get home. Use a hand sanitiser or if you carry a disinfecting spray, you could spray gate handles before and after use.
- avoid fields with young calves or lambs - go into a neighbouring field or onto adjacent land
- avoid fields with growing crops unless there is a clear path or field margin (remember that newly planted crops may not yet be obvious
- take away all your litter
- leave gates as you find them
- respect the interests of farmers and others working the land – please follow all reasonable requests and signs that ask you to avoid places such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, sensitive wildlife breeding areas and other busy working areas
- do not light fires or use disposable BBQs. Put out cigarettes fully and dispose of in a bin
- Plan ahead for your visit and be safe
- See this advice regarding safety around reservoirs
If you have a dog:
- keep it on a lead or close at heel on farmland. Scottish Government guidance for companion animals and livestock indicates that dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead at all times, avoiding contact with other people and animals
- do not allow your dog to approach animals or people uninvited (in open country, it may not be obvious when animals are around)
- where possible avoid animals - release your dog if threatened by cattle
- always keep your dog in sight and under control – if in doubt use a lead
- pick up and remove all waste