How To Safely Enjoy The Outdoors During Covid-19
Any good news in these uncertain times is more than welcome, so when Wales recently announced that there is unrestricted travel it was a great boost for everyone in Wales and those who love the outdoors.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” Peter Parker - Spiderman
There certainly is a collective responsibility to respect the new freedoms given, practice social distancing and other Covid-19 health and safety measures; however, the real-world impracticalities of the outdoors, record numbers of people exercising and confusion over Covid-19 advice makes it tricky to look after your own and others safety.
Hiking & Trail Running Covid-19 Advice
England: you can now go hiking and running for as long as you want, drive to a destination and walk/run with up to 6 people from 6 households while following social distance guidelines.
Northern Ireland: there are no travel restrictions and you can go on a walk with 10 - 15 people while following social distance guidelines.
Wales: while following social distance guidelines you can hike/run with an unlimited amount of people from two households and drive any amount of distance.
Scotland: you can drive as far as you want and hike/run with up to 8 people from 3 different households while following social distance guidelines.
- Certain locations or areas are still closed to the public so it's worth checking online before setting off.
- Popular, well-known locations will be busier than normal; so why not take this opportunity to try a new, lesser-known route.
- Routes will be quieter in the morning and late evenings, especially Mon- Fri.
- Remain two meters away from other walkers/runners, at bottlenecks be patient and let others past where possible.
- Breathing heavily when running can cause alarm to walkers - try to give extra space when passing.
- When planning a walk try to choose one with wide-open spaces rather than narrow footpaths.
- Try to avoid touching gates, styles and walls. Where you have to be sure to use antibacterial hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
- Remember to take individual gear and supplies rather than sharing e.g water bottles, walking poles, food.
- Know your ability/ fitness level, be modest with your route choice and distance & take no unnecessary risks. Mountain Rescue are operating at reduced capacity so help could be a long wait and there is also the risk of transmission between rescue members and yourself.
- When running, avoid focusing on the time/pace and be cautious across uneven terrain to help minimise the risk of injury.
- Please be respectful of local residents in the area you are walking or running, especially when parking.
Extra Stay Safe advice
Climbing / Mountaineering Covid-19 Advice
England: you can climb outdoors with the same amount of people as when your out hiking (6 people from 6 households) - indoor climbing walls remain closed.
Northern Ireland: you can climb outdoors with the same amount of people as when your out hiking ( 10 - 15 people) - indoor climbing walls remain closed.
Wales: you can climb outdoors with the same amount of people as when your out hiking (unlimited people from 2 households) - indoor climbing walls remain closed.
Scotland: you can climb outdoors with the same amount of people as when your out hiking (8 people from 3 households) - indoor climbing walls remain closed.
Whether climbing, mountaineering or bouldering, there is an inherent risk in doing it so extra care should be taken in preparing for and attempting a route or problem. A trip to the hospital should be avoided at all costs and mountain rescue teams are depleted at the moment resulting in potentially slow rescues.
- Climbing with members of your own household simplifies things a lot with you able to share equipment and get closer than 2m. However, the holds on your route may have recently been used by other climbers, especially when bouldering, so you should still avoid touching your face while climbing and use antibacterial hand sanitizer after every climb.
- It’s sensible to climb down a grade from your normal routes minimising the risk.
- When climbing with someone from outside of your household it gets a bit trickier with maintaining 2m distances and protection so this needs to come into consideration when you're choosing a route.
- Climb easier bouldering problems; use plenty of mats and a sensible demeanour.
- Only choose multi-pitch routes where there are spacious stances to avoid getting too close to your second.
- Use your own individual ropes and clips when sport climbing and avoid using your mouth to hold ropes or gear.
- For trad climbing try to use protection in batches and use hand sanitizer when you need to touch someone else's gear.
- Utilise bottom rope belaying rather than traditional top-roping to give your partner space when topping out.
Extra Stay Safe advice
England: You can go camping; social distance guidelines must be adhered to.
Northern Ireland: You can go camping; social distance guidelines must be adhered to.
Wales: only camping without shared facilities (e.g carvans, some glamping etc.) is currently allowed - lookout for an announcement on the 25th of July which may signal the easing of rules for general camping.
Scotland: only camping without shared facilities (e.g carvans, some glamping etc.) is currently allowed - lookout for an announcement on the 15th of July which may signal the easing of rules for general camping.
There are some amazingly beautiful and scenic places to explore in UK so I hope that this blog has given you the confidence to enjoy them in the safest way possible.
Stay safe and look after each other.
More stay safe resources:
- Forestry England
- Lakes National Park
- Peaks National Park
- National Trust
- National Parks
- Get Outside Stay Safe
- Outdoor learning as the safest way back to education
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A decade later and you're most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.