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All things hiking News

Coming up to Scotland in 2021?

Post COVID travel is not going to look the same as in 2019. There’s no getting away from it: this pandemic has brought about massive lifestyle changes, some of which could be around for some time to come.

Though there has been a massive vaccination programme, through which most if not all the main “at risk” groups will have been covered by mid April, there will still be an element of risk for us all when we exit our lockdown bubbles. We’re all getting just a tad fed up of seeing the same 4 walls now; but caution will still be the name of the game, even when we’re given the go ahead to go a bit further afield. So it’s worth remembering that there will still be a few restrictions in place, even for guided walking holidays and trips in the outdoors.

For at least the initial stages of coming out of lockdown (Spring 2021) social distancing rules are likely to remain. It’s not completely clear at time of writing exactly what these will look like when it comes to the hospitality industry or guided group exercise but outdoor group classes have already started again (March 2021) as have club social bike rides, so it looks promising for Scot Mountain Holidays activities. However, we would recommend that all guests make sure that they bring face coverings for any occasions where it may be necessary for us to temporarily be in closer proximity. We’d also recommend carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pack to cover any possible emergencies. We will have extra hand sanitizer available and a dispenser is installed in the van.

When we stop for breaks, try to make sure you maintain distance between yourself and other members of the group and don’t share food around.

We’ve had to use face coverings for a year or so now. They’re almost a part of daily life when you leave the house. Signs encouraging face coverings are everywhere.

We don’t expect face coverings to be worn while hiking. Social distancing is more than enough while out – and comes naturally as we all have our own pace. However, they will remain necessary while we’re in transit. In other words both in the bus and while moving around our home base face coverings will remain necessary for the foreseeable future.


Something we’ve all become accustomed to over the past year – frequent hand washing and sanitiser supplied everywhere. We recommend carrying a small container of sanitiser on the walks. You may be unable to avoid touching or close contact on occasion. Personally I recommend moisturiser too. All this soap and sanitiser takes out your natural skin oils and leaves your hands dry and itchy.


This is such an important one at the moment. Each of the 4 home nations having taken slightly different routes into and out of lockdown. Therefore it is so important to stay up-to-date with the post Covid travel rules. For example, no date has yet been confirmed (29.03.21) for the resumption of travel between Scotland and England. All we have been offered is a date (26.04.21) for travel across Scotland. We’ll just have to keep our eyes open after Easter and see what changes (if any) are made to the restrictions. Of course, we now have the Scottish Election complicating the post-Covid plans and government is currently in recess pending the election results at the beginning of May.

We’ve taken care of this one for you. None of the places we’ll be taking you will be overrun with visitors. It’s rare to spot other walkers, even in the distance, on many of Andy’s routes. When we say we’ll take you off the beaten track, we really mean it.



And of course, don’t forget once you do make it up here – we all have to be responsible when we go out to enjoy nature.

post COVID travel

Further reading

What will travel look like in a post COVID world?

Travel trends after coronavirus

How Scotland and England plan to resume travel, camping etc




At the moment, most of us a feeling a wee bit more tied down and unable to go out for much outdoor exercise during lockdown. However, even though you may have to do the same or similar walks from home for a while, there are ways to make your regular walks more entertaining

1. People dodgems

Inevitable with more people “working from home”, getting out and about on the paths surrounding your home and maintaining your social distance is becoming more difficult. Why not turn it into part of the challenge for your walk? How many people did you see when out today? What did you do to avoid them? How could you manage a completely isolated walk? – Walk at midnight? Can you manage an invisible walk?

2. Include some foraging

Nettles are in season right now, but you’ll have to be quick as they’ll quite quickly become too big to be tender enough to use for soup – recipe coming soon.

Wild garlic is also in season. We have some pasta base and pesto recipes for wild garlic and have also made some wild garlic ice cubes to add to our pasta/stew recipes

Spring foraging recipes to follow shortly

outdoor exercise during lockdown

Wild garlic

outdoor exercise during lockdown


3. Add a birdsong identification app to your phone

Listen to the birds which are out around you and see if you can identify them by the song you here. Check your identification with the app on your phone. You might be surprised what there is in your locale.

4. Download a tree identification app to your phone

The Woodland Trust have  very good tree identification app which now I come to think of it has been recommended by other people to me.

5. Try a night walk and head away from the street lights (if you have this option)

It’s amazing how different a walk can seem at night as opposed to during the day. You could try and do what we’ve done in the past and take a torch with you to spot “eye shine”. This is when your torchlight reflects back off animals’ eyes. For example, you can see from the eye shine that there are a lot more deer out in the woods than you thought during the day

6. (Linked to number 5) Check out a night sky app

There are a few different options and fortunately someone else has already done an analysis of the options. Take a look at this blog.

7. Sign up for audible or see if your library offers virtual audio books to download

If you don’t have an audible subscription yet, I would recommend it. Though there are also plenty of podcasts out there to keep you company on your walk, a book lasts longer. We enjoy audiobooks while we’re travelling in the car, but as we can’t do that at the moment, enjoying some listening while walking a route you’ve done many times before can make things a wee bit more interesting. You might not have anyone else in your household to enjoy outdoor exercise during lockdown, the audiobook could be good company if you choose well. There are also lots of inspiring walking, hiking, climbing and travel books which have been narrated to keep you inspired.

Some recommendations:

Touching the Void (Joe Simpson)

No Shortcuts to the Top (Ed Viesturs)

The Marches (Rory Stewart)

The Living Mountain (Nan Shepherd)

In the Cairngorms (Nan Shepherd)

8. Browse the podcasts and get one to accompany you on your walk

Suggested podcasts:

Scotland Outdoors

The Adventure Podcast

Sounds of the Trail

Of Mountains and Minds

Also checkout this recommended list put together by Much Better Adventures.

9. Time your walk and try to improve every day

10. Share your walks on OSmaps or Strava

Nothing like feeling as if you’re still part of a community, even if it is online!


outdoor exercise during lockdown

Any idea what this is supposed to be? Created by the children of Abernethy and Deshar primary schools –
view from Deshar School towards the northern Cairngorms on one of our daily outdoor exercise during lockdown
routes from Fraoch Lodge

However you manage to enjoy your more limited time outdoors this spring, do take care but at the same time – keep fit and ready for a time when we can head back into the outdoors as much as we like.



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