I am asked if I am going out on the hills with the Coronavirus ongoing?
I have not been on the hills since January as I have a ongoing problem with my chest. It’s getting better and I feel a bit stronger how I miss the big mountains. I am still getting out on local walks, golfing and cycling. I am following all the Guidelines. Social distances being a key point. As I am often out alone its easy to do. Its a great time to be outside as the Spring is coming with all the plants coming through daily. The birds are nesting and we have the warming of the sun on our backs. We need exercise and the fresh air and if you are careful you can still do it.
I am very careful with hygiene as we are told to be. Washing hands regularly and being as careful as I can. As I live on my own things are a lot easier I can do most things and look after myself. I am keeping a distance from folk but still speaking as you need company and to be able to chat. It’s so important for us all. My Grand kids have moved to Inverness and we are taking it carefully with them.
There are plenty of walks/cycles in my area with the beach, the forests and the sea nearby. I am very lucky. I have so many places I can wander about. I hope to still get out on the hills and I will heed the advice of the Mountain Rescue Teams and Emergency Services of being careful go to area I know and be as safe as possible as they are all stretched.
I will travel alone in my car it’s not Environmentally friendly but it is necessary at this time. To me and many for my well being I need to be out in the fresh air. The Scottish Mountaineering Club have closed all their huts and my club the Moray Club and many others have cancelled all meets.
Most climbing Walls are shut as is Glenmore Lodge. In the Outdoor world the Instructors and affiliated Industries will be having a hard time. Many are sole traders and struggling with no or limited work. As will the Accommodation and local pubs and eating places. Most of these area are remote and will struggle. Yet as a friend wrote who is out alone in the mountains said that he receives lots of social media on both sides but the majority say is its good to see something positive on their media feeds. It cheers them up and offers a bit of a distraction. Mental awareness is so important and what a time of year to be out and see nature spring to life? Comments welcome, he follows all the advice.
I cannot visit an old lady who is 85 years old. She lives in a home and they are restricting there visitors. I took her lots of things she loves so she will be okay but she is very lonely and finds it hard to understand what is happening. She like many with hearing and eyesight problems are very worried. We can still communicate by phone it’s a lonely world for many. We must look after these folk they are very vulnerable and anxious and I speak to her every day along with others.
There is a lot of advice out there this is from the Mountaineering Scotland website.
Advice on hill-walking, mountaineering, skiing and climbing
As the coronavirus pandemic is having increasing impact on our lives and lifestyles, some are wondering what the effects will be on hillwalking, mountaineering and outdoor climbing.
The first thing to note is that, although some indoor climbing walls are closing we still have access to the hills and outdoor crags.
Outdoor recreation has substantial benefits to both physical and mental health, which may be all the more valuable given the other restrictions being placed on society, and outdoor activities such as hill-walking, mountaineering, climbing and ski-mountaineering can be enjoyed while maintaining social distancing.
However there are a number of considerations that should be weighed up before taking any decisions.
Against the benefit of taking cash to rural economies there is the risk of bringing infection into a rural community with limited medical resources. There’s also the possibility of having an accident either while travelling to the hills or once there. As well as using up pressured NHS resources, those dealing with accidents are put at increased risk of infection.
And Scottish Mountain Rescue has Scottish Mountain Rescue has put out a statement urging people to stick to “familiar and safe areas”:
“Being in the outdoors has many benefits and we are usually very happy to encourage individuals to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Scotland. However, during this ongoing situation we ask you not to take any unnecessary risk when enjoying the outdoors. Perhaps go on adventures you are familiar and safe with and while doing so, keep social distancing in mind.”
The organisation, which represents 24 rescue teams, said it was reviewing action plans to ensure it can provide a continuous service, and has asked people caught up in a rescue incident to let police know if they suspect they have coronavirus.
For anyone considering going to the hills or crags we would recommend the following points:
- Follow the most current NHS advice regarding health and distancing.
- Consider your means of travel and distance – close to home is best and, despite the environmental impact, it’s better to be in personal cars than public transport at the moment.
- Have a think if considering using huts or bunkhouses and check out our article here.
- Stick to familiar areas and low-risk activities.
- Reduce your risk. Be very aware that medical and rescue services and facilities are going to be extremely stretched and overwhelmed. It would be socially irresponsible to be taking risks at this time that could place an additional burden on medical and emergency services.
- Do not assume that Mountain Rescue will be available. There is a real possibility of reduced or even no cover for rescue in some areas as this develops – including along the coast that depends on lifeboat and volunteer coastguards.
As the majority of indoor climbing venues across the UK have closed, many indoor climbers may be considering climbing on outdoor crags. For them we offer the following additional advice:
- Have you climbed outdoors before? We would always recommend that if you are going climbing outdoors for the first time that you go with someone who has the experience and also has access to suitable equipment for all involved.
- Is it likely to be busy? Popular crags or boulder venues might be busy with like-minded people. Being in this environment might go against government advice on health and distancing.
- Keep those hands clean. Consider how you will keep your hands before and after climbing. Maybe take bottled water, some hand wash and a towel with you.
The government has also published an action plan.
This is from the SAIS website “During the current Covid-19 situation we would encourage all those going outdoors to be mindful of unintended consequences of their actions and the potential impact on medical and rescue personnel. Consider your objectives carefully in relation to current conditions and BE SAFE!”
“Although the Lochaber hills are looking beautiful and inviting at present, we as a team would not be responsible if we failed to point out that, at this time of national emergency, our ability to respond to incidents may be curtailed by circumstances created by #Covid19.
Hillgoers should consider what extra pressures a single accident may put upon already stretched local hospital services. Normal service in terms of recovery and transfer cannot be guaranteed.
As much as it pains us, as hillgoers ourselves, the best thing folk could do is stay at home at this time. Support your local community. Please do not put extra stress on our small and already fragile healthcare infrastructure.
The hills will still be here next winter and hopefully later in the summer adventure can be had.
Secretary LMRT & local Consultant Physician