It is important to respect the mountain environment and to be mindful of issues of environmental conservation as well as the concerns of landowners, local residents, and the owners and custodians of the mountain huts we use.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides a good guide on issues of appropriate behaviour and is well worth a look, however much of this is common sense. The MCofS has also prepared a good booklet “Minimal Impact Mountaineering Advice” and several other useful resources. Some of the main issues are also discussed below.
Deer Stalking and Hillphones
An issue of particular relevance to hillwalkers and mountaineers in Scotland which may seem less immediately obvious is that of deer stalking. Many landowners manage this activity on their estates, and whilst you do have the legal “right to roam” the concerns of landowners should be considered, in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code mentioned above. This means taking reasonable steps to minimise your impact on their activities whilst on their land.
The hillphones service is a way of finding out when stalking will be happening in each area so you can try and plan your routes to avoid potential disturbance. Many car parks used by hillwalkers also have noticeboards or signs maintained by the local estate with similar information for the immediate area.
On deer stalking, The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says:
Deer management can take place during many months of the year but
the most sensitive time is the stag stalking season (usually from 1
July to 20 October, but with most stalking taking place from August
onwards). During this season, you can help to minimise disturbance
by taking reasonable steps to find out where stalking is taking
place (such as by using the Hillphones service where one is
available) and by taking account of advice on alternative routes.
Avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place. Stalking does
not normally take place on Sundays."
Camping in the Wild
When camping in the wilderness you should be aware of your responsibilities as summarised in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code mentioned above. Wild camping is described in the code as “lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place”.
Always “leave no trace”:
- take away all your litter
- remove all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance in the code regarding lighting fires)
- dig your toilet hole well away from any stream or river, and fill it in afterwards
- don’t cause any pollution
Also avoid causing problems for local people and land managers:
- don’t camp in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals
- keep well away from buildings, roads or historic structures
- take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting
- if you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission
Staying in Bothies
When staying in bothies, follow the “bothy code“, i.e.:
- Respect other users – Leave the bothy clean and tidy; sweep areas you have used and wipe surfaces. Leave dry kindling for the next visitors where possible. Don’t crowd out the bothy; be prepared to camp in busy periods, especially if in a group.
- Respect the bothy – Don’t cause careless damage or vandalism. Take out all rubbish that you don’t burn. Guard against fire risk when using both your own stove and the bothy fireplace. Please don’t leave perishable food; this encourages pests and vermin. Please ensure that the fire is out and the door properly shut when you leave.
- Respect the surroundings – Avoid burying rubbish, as this
pollutes the environment. Fuel is not provided – you must bring your
own. Please conserve fuel and never cut down live wood. For health
reasons, never use the vicinity of the bothy as a toilet; travel at
least 100m away from the bothy, staying well away from streams, dig a
hole and fill it in afterwards.
Further details of the bothy code are described on our club bothy page.
Snowholing and Winter Activities
When involved in winter mountaineering and climbing, it is inevitable that at some point you will have to respond to a call of nature. It is important to consider that any human waste left within the snow pack will remain there until the spring thaw when it will make an unpleasant return, re-appearing out of the melting snow and possibly polluting streams and posing health risks to others. This is of particular concern in popular winter climbing areas which see a large number of visitors concentrated in a relatively small area throughout the winter months. It is also more of a problem if you go snowholing as it is more likely that calls of nature will arise whilst you are on the mountain.
To prevent these problems the Cairngorm Poo Project has been set up to provide a convenient way of disposing of your waste during the winter months when burying in the ground is not feasable. Visit the project website for more details.
Be aware of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and enjoy the mountain environment responsibly. Remember that your actions reflect on the club as a whole, and bringing the club into disrepute is a diciplinary offence punishable by loss of membership (see club constitution).