Call to care for the countryside over the Christmas period

Press Release

Festive frosty walks in Scotland’s countryside can be a highlight of Christmas – but with an appeal being made to enjoy our rural areas responsibly and respectfully during this period.

Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), which represents farmers, land managers and rural businesses, has said the next few weeks should be enjoyable for access-takers but reiterated their year-round call to take litter home, not disturb wildlife and keep dogs under control near cows and sheep.

The request follows high-profile issues of littering, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and flytipping in rural Scotland during the course of the pandemic.

Whilst Scotland will be under travel restrictions over the festive period, SLE said it expected an increase in visitors to rural areas and it was important to once again fly the flag for responsible access to avoid farmers and land managers being forced to mount clean-up operations or protect livestock from dogs.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive at Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“There is no better place to be at Christmas than rural Scotland – especially if we get the weather to enjoy walks in the fresh air against a beautifully scenic backdrop.

“Whilst this Christmas will be different for all of us, we still expect many to be walking their dogs or exercising in the countryside as they attempt to burn some calories from the Christmas pudding.

“Our message on behalf of farmers and land managers is to enjoy our rural areas but remember to do so responsibly and respectfully.

“Cows and sheep will be grazing in fields and it is important that dogs are kept on a short leash in these areas. We would also ask people to be mindful of other types of wildlife and to remember to take litter and other items home when it is time to depart. This year has been difficult for many rural communities and businesses that have had to clean up after inconsiderate visitors.

“Getting out in the fresh air is good for our mental and physical health and wellbeing and rural Scotland very much welcomes access takers - we just ask the public to be mindful to take care in the countryside over the festive period and beyond.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides practical advice to the public about accessing rural areas. For more information, visit