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More rangers to patrol the Cairngorms as influx of visitors expected this weekend

cairngorms
The Lairig Ghru is one of the mountain passes through the Cairngorms of Scotland.

An influx of visitors is expected at some of the north-east’s most remote and scenic locations this weekend, including the Cairngorms.

In response, extra countryside rangers will be sited at some of the more popular hills and walking routes.

Visitors have also been urged to be careful when hillwalking for the first time in months, and to come well-prepared.

Heather Morning, from Mountaineering Scotland, is based in the Cairngorms and told Good Morning Scotland they were looking forward to welcoming people back to the hills.

Cairngorms

She said: “We are really excited about the hills opening up again for our members and the wider public as well.

“I would encourage everyone to go out into the great outdoors as it brings huge benefits, both physically and mentally and we do enjoy some of the best access and freedoms in the whole world but with that comes big responsibility for ourselves and others and the world around us.

“You need to be responsible as individuals so you don’t get in trouble in all the high mountains as there is still quite a bit of old snow there, especially in the north-facing slopes high up and in the mornings it’s still really freezing overnight, so make sure you check the weather forecast.

“On the east tiers, this will be great this weekend but also have a look at the Scottish Avalanche information service, on there is the blogs which will give you an idea of where to avoid if you don’t have the kit as sadly at this time of the year we have a history of people slipping on that old snow and injuring or worse.”

More freedom this weekend

cairngorms
Some snow remains on the hills (picture taken in January)

This weekend will be the first time this year people can leave their local authority areas for recreation purposes.

The Cairngorms is a popular destination for hill-walking, as there is a number of scenic trails and Munros to tackle.

However, Ms Morning urged visitors to be cautious if they are attacking a hill for the first time in months.

She added: “Take a conservative approach to hill-walking.

“If you have not been up a mountain for a long time and its a hot day, and you perhaps have some extra lockdown weight, then it will be more challenging for you so take a lower hill, a rounded one, have a look at the Walk Highlands website for some ideas.

“There will be some real pressure on the hotspots with some real parking issues as well, so think outside the box a bit, have some ideas of where to go, take it quite slowly and take a shorter or lower route than 18 months ago when you would have been happy to go bag some Munros.”

No overnight stays permitted

Concerns about wild camping have been raised ahead of lockdown easing this weekend

No overnight stays are permitted at the moment, so wild camping is not allowed and all accommodation is currently shut.

This means that the majority of toilets near walking routes will be closed.

Ms Morning had some good advice for those who may have to answer nature’s call when up high in the mountains.

She said: “Over the last few years we’ve seen a trend of people coming here and probably locals as well and not leaving the place as perhaps you would like to see it left for others in the future.

Human excrement and toilet paper left behind in Aberdeenshire following wild camping

“It’s going to be exacerbated as in many areas the toilets aren’t open and neither are cafes and pubs.

“We all get caught out in the mountains, when you poo please have a think about where you do it.

“Get right off-track, well away from everyone, maybe in some long vegetation somewhere and away from a watercourse.

“Dig yourself a hole using a boot, make sure you cover it up afterward, you don’t need to use loo roll, we spend our whole lives seeing loo rolls scattered around the tracks, it looks awful, moss is a great alternative, a great substitute and is very environmentally friendly.”

Traffic management

Traffic chaos at the Cairngorms

To manage the influx of visitors, traffic management is being put in place at Linn of Dee and Glen Muick once the car parks have become full.

No entry signs will be installed and staffed, and cars will allowed entry in a one in, one out basis.

Balmoral Estate and NTS Mar Lodge Staff will be managing this.

This system has been put in place to ensure that the single-track roads surrounding the site do not get overloaded with parked cars.

Rangers will also be out and about across the Cairngorms to provide information and help visitors.

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