Highlands & Islands

Coronavirus: Rescue teams 'nervous' as hills opened up

Image caption People can now travel further for leisure following an easing of lockdown rules

A mountain rescue organisation has said an easing of travel restrictions did not mean it was "back to normal" in Scotland's hills and mountains.

Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) said people should not feel guilty about asking for help if they need it.

But it warned dealing with any incident may take longer because of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

SMR said teams were "slightly nervous" about a "sudden rush" of rescues in coming days.

It has asked walkers and climbers to pack hand sanitiser and a face covering with their usual kit, just in case they end up requiring help from a rescue team.

Rescue teams now also carry personal protective equipment (PPE).

Advice for hillwalkers and climbers

SMR and outdoor organisations have published guidance on how people can stay in the hills while coronavirus remains a potential risk.

SMR said it was less concerned about experienced walkers and climbers, who were accustomed to planning routes and were aware of the need to carry emergency clothing and supplies.

It added: "But we are concerned that there is a group of people, who don't usually go to the hills, who are keen to come and experience the benefits of hillwalking."

Image caption SMR said it was still not "back to normal" in terms of mountain rescue operations

SMR has asked outdoor enthusiasts to help spread information about how people can stay safe while visiting the hills.

The organisation, which represents more than 20 search and rescue teams, thanked the public for heeding advice and restrictions at the height of the lockdown, which saw the longest period without a call-out in 19 years.