Lockdown Lifting in Scotland and Wales - What We Know

© Luca Celano

Following last month's easing of travel restrictions in England, administrations in Wales and Scotland have maintained a more cautious pace. However, pressure has been building to liberalise the stricter limits, and both Wales and Scotland have now announced relaxations in the rules, to come into effect in July. It looks like hillwalking and climbing should soon be back on the agenda for everyone across the UK, though precautions will still need to be taken.

A glorious evening on Crib Goch  © Luca Celano
A glorious evening on Crib Goch
© Luca Celano, Sep 2019

In Wales, the hitherto very strict 'stay local' rule is expected to come to an end on 6 July, all being well with the general trajectory of the virus. From that date people will be free to travel to and within Wales, and any distance to the hills or crags. It is expected that mountain areas that have effectively been closed throughout lockdown will start to reopen, although local details are still thin on the ground.

However overnight stays away from home are not expected to be permitted in Wales until 13 July. At that point only fully self-contained accommodation will be permitted - for example holiday cottages, caravan sites, and glamping sites with private toilet facilities. More communal accommodation such as campsites with shared facilities, hostels, club huts and outdoor centres will stay closed.

General advice on virus safety should still be followed

The BMC advise people to: maintain social distancing; be cautious of shared surfaces (such as gates and stiles); seek out less popular hills and crags; and think about scaling back your ambitions to help avoid putting strain on rescue services.

For more detail see here

Dan Mazhindu, of South Wales Search and Rescue, asked walkers and climbers to exercise caution, and remember that fitness and skills might have got rusty after the long layoff.

"We fully understand people's desires to get back to the mountains, for their physical and mental health," he said.

"But we would urge people to stay within their limits. The mountains are going to be there for a long time to come, please don't rush to them all at once."

Announced Wednesday 24 June, Scotland's five-mile travel guidelines will be lifted from 3 July, nearly two weeks earlier than many had expected and feared. Self-catering cottages and campsites will be allowed to open from that date, in time for the Scottish school holidays.

From 15 July, all hotels, cafes, museums and holiday accommodation in Scotland are expected to be allowed to re-open.

Speaking on Wednesday, Stuart Younie, Chief Executive Officer of Mountaineering Scotland, said: "Today's announcement, and the plans to bring forward a relaxation in travel for leisure is a positive step and one that will be welcomed by our members and outdoor enthusiasts across Scotland.

"We hope that more people will now be able to enjoy a return to the hills and mountains but continue to play their part and stay safe as they have done over the last few months."

The organisation has reminded people that being free to travel, climb and walk does not imply a return to normal, and that distancing and hygiene guidelines must still be observed.

"We all need to remain COVID aware" sais Stuart Younie.

"Think where you are going and consider avoiding places you know are likely to be busy and be sensitive to the concerns of rural communities. The sacrifices we have all been making have helped us get this far in a return to the hills, but the virus is still out there so we would encourage anyone heading to the hills to do so with this in mind and to act responsibly."

Meanwhile, all Mountain Bothies Association bothies across the UK remain closed.

"Although some COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, all MBA maintained bothies remain closed to visitors" said the association in a statement.

"At present, it seems unlikely that they will be able to re-open until such time as Government guidance permits public gatherings in enclosed spaces without the need for social distancing. We are of course keeping the situation under close review and if there is any change or indeed any further information that becomes available we will provide further advice."

In both Scotland and Wales, it remains to be seen how prepared the infrastructure is going to be to meet the expected influx of visitors. After months of lockdown and widespread reports of hostility to visitors, the welcome (or otherwise) that incomers can expect to receive in small local communities is also an open question.

The best advice for all travelling walkers and climbers is to exercise common sense and respect for others.

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25 Jun, 2020

The army intend to keep Range East in Pembrokeshire closed until the end of July, even at weekends - I'm not sure whether they will open it up then or not. Range West will be closed until after next year's briefings. These are very significant restrictions on the Pembrokeshire climbing.

25 Jun, 2020

A bit more info and details regarding the situation in Wales in the article on the BMC website

Also in reply to the comment about the Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, we are in discussion with the National Park and the MoD and we are hopeful that the car parks at St Govan's and Stack rocks and the coastline in between will be open as usual, subject to firing restrictions from July 6th onwards... and almost certainly will be from July 13th. There may be some additional seasonal restrictions due to nesting birds which will be noted on signs at the car parks and of course on the BMC RAD.


Elfyn Jones

BMC Access & Conservation Officer (Wales)

25 Jun, 2020

Thank you Elfyn, that's the first I have heard of Range East reopening. I still think it is entirely unreasonable that Range West should be shut for a whole year - I hardly ever see anyone else there.

25 Jun, 2020

What's the ridge in the photo?

25 Jun, 2020

Caption says Crib Goch

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