Get outside this National Walking Month

Calum Henderson ,
25 May 2021

In this blog, our Digital Communications Officer Calum Henderson discusses the benefits of getting outside. As well as highlighting some of the issues with careless access being taken in the countryside, the blog covers some of our latest opportunities for member engagement around the subject.

May is National Walking Month, a time when the incentives to get outside and enjoy the countryside continue to grow in number. With a reduction of Covid-19 restrictions for many of us, and with the evenings becoming lighter for longer, people all over the country are flocking to rural areas to take in the sights, to get some fresh air and to enjoy some time in nature.

The Mental Health Foundation recently produced a list of top tips for connecting with nature to improve your mental health as part of their work for the 2021 Mental Health Awareness Week. However, in addition to the benefits for mental health that come with being outside, walking provides a number of other health benefits.

A 30 minute walk each day reduces a person’s risk of a stroke in later life and walking also reduces problems relating to dementia in the elderly. In addition to this, going for a walk is an effective way to gradually lose weight. With all of these benefits and others, there’s really no reason not to take time to step out and get some fresh air.

We have, however, also been reminding the public that when taking to the countryside, it is important to be respectful both towards both the locals and people who make their living within the countryside, and the local wildlife which inhabit the landscape.

The recent #LeadOn campaign led by the National Sheep Association (NSA) has highlighted the issue of livestock worrying. A survey conducted by the NSA found that of those who responded, half of farmers had been subject to abuse or intimidation when asking dog owners to keep their pets on a lead. Two thirds reported an increase of attacks on livestock throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is therefore worth remembering that we have designed a range of access signage for SLE members, which are available on our website here. The signs were developed to cover issues relating to respecting the environment, and information for dog walkers. The signs also include a QR code which will direct interested users to the Outdoor Access Code.

Despite the actions of some, we know that the majority of people are considerate when taking access throughout Scotland. The right to access should not be taken for granted, and the responsibilities which go along with taking access must always be remembered.

With that being said, we encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the Scottish countryside. Whether as part of National Walking Month, or just for your own benefit, now is the time to step out and make the most of Scotland's landscape!

In addition, taking place in June and July, we are holding Visitor Management Roundtable events. These events provide a brilliant opportunity to hear about the experiences of other members and how they have resolved their access and visitor management issues. More information on these events and others from our fantastic lineup can be found on our events page.