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Walking in Scottish Highlands, If you are a traveller looking for a gentle stroll in the countryside among the trees and rivers, walk through the wild mountain and loch scenery,or breezy coastal sandy beaches this is the page for you, Here a the rules for Scotland's outdoor access rights Everyone can enjoy Scotland's outdoor access rights.

In summary, the main features of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 are: Everyone has the statutory right of access Access rights apply to all land and inland waters, unless excluded (as below) Access rights are for outdoor recreation, for crossing land and water, and for some educational and commercial purposes.

Exercising access rights, and managing access land, must be done responsibly.

Where access rights do not apply

Houses and gardens

Non-residential buildings and associated land

Farm buildings and yards Land in which crops have been sown or are growing (although please note that the headrigs, endrigs and other margins of fields where crops are growing are not defined as crops, whether sown or unsown, and are therefore within access rights).

Land next to a school and used by the school Sports or playing fields when these are in use and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use Land developed and in use for recreation and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use Golf courses (but you can cross a golf course provided you don't interfere with any games of golf) Places like airfields, railways, telecommunication sites, military bases and installations, working quarries and construction sites, and Visitor attractions or other places which charge for entry.

Which activities are excluded from access rights?

Access rights don't extend to being on or crossing land for the purpose of doing anything which is an offence, such as theft, breach of the peace, nuisance, poaching, Allowing a dog to worry livestock, dropping litter, polluting water or disturbing certain wild birds, animals and plants Hunting, shooting, fishing Any form of motorised recreation or passage (except by people with a disability using a vehicle or vessel adapted for their use) Anyone responsible for a dog which is not under proper control, anyone taking away anything from the land for a commercial purpose.

Other related legislation supporting access to the countryside Public rights of way continue to exist and are unaffected by the Act Public rights on the foreshore and in tidal waters will continue to exist Liability - the Act makes clear that the extent of the duty of care owed by a land manager is unaffected Access rights do not extend to criminal activity which is defined by various statutory offences. (updated 14th November 2014 )

The Stag Stalking Season

From 1st July to 20th October (the stag stalking season) you should: take reasonable steps to find out where stalking is happening

Such as looking at leaflets and signs;

Follow reasonable requests on alternative routes on days stalking is taking place; not cross land where stalking is taking place;

Avoid wild camping where stalking is planned for the next day.

Land managers shouldn't make it unreasonably difficult for you to access the hills, such as asking you to keep to low ground, but estates can't always tell where they will be stalking so it's not always possible for land managers to provide precise daily information and to suggest alternative routes.

Most estates won't know where they are stalking more than a couple of days beforehand. Some estates provide more general messages - such as asking you to follow particular routes to the summits during the stalking season.

These requests aim to reach a compromise between the needs of hill-walkers and stalkers, but because they apply for more than a day, they may include some times and places where stalking is not actually happening.

You'll need to judge whether such requests are reasonable,

This site will provide a more detail on access rights and stalking. http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/outdoors-responsibly/access-code-and-advice/scottish-hills/http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/outdoors-responsibly/access-code-and-advice/scottish-hills/ 

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code

Scotland has a long and varied coastline with a wealth of marine wildlife. It is arguably the best place in Europe to watch whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The basking shark – the second largest fish in the world – can often be seen feeding off the west coast in summer. Seals are found all around our coasts, are curious and easy to observe.

Otters are more elusive, but are nonetheless relatively common, and if you watch carefully and are patient you may see them. Spectacular populations of seabirds nest on our sea cliffs and islands, and hundreds of thousands of waders and waterfowl frequent our beaches and estuaries. Sea eagles can be seen soaring and hunting on the west coast.

Occasionally loggerhead and leatherback turtles are seen in our waters.

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code is designed for all those who watch marine wildlife around Scotland – whether they are on the shore or at sea. It is not a law or regulation – its over-riding purpose is to raise awareness and offer practical guidance. The Code will: Help you to enjoy watching marine wildlife. Improve your chance of seeing wildlife. Help minimise disturbance to marine wildlife. Provide a standard for the wildlife watching industry. Help you to stay within the law.

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code has been developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act. It aims to promote enjoyment of marine wildlife and raise awareness about the best ways to watch species including dolphins, birds, seals, otters and basking sharks.

The code’s development follows widespread consultation, particularly with marine wildlife tourism operators. It includes recommendations, advice and information relating to commercial and leisure activities involving the watching of marine wildlife.

The code itself is expected to be emulated by other public agencies across the border. It has received broad support from the marine wildlife Launching the Code at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Wildlife Centre in Spey Bay, Morayshire, "Watching marine wildlife is exciting and an enjoyable way to learn about our wild animals, but it is important that we do it responsibly. "This code sets out simple steps we can all take to enjoy wildlife without disturbing the wildlife watching industry it is a increasingly significant part of Scottish tourism and it is the first time a code has been produced which applies to all those with an interest in the marine environment.

For more information - http://www.marinecode.org/scottish-marine-code-g.asphttp://www.marinecode.org/scottish-marine-code-g.asp  

Scotland is a unique country with some of the best access rights in Europe You don't have to go far to explore, you just have to go out. The great outdoors can be discovered from your doorstep.

Relax in the outdoors with family and friends; enjoy your beaches, hills and forests Explore your local park or green space See and experience the beauty and grandeur of our distinctive and diverse landscapes discover your local wildlife Have fun, get outdoors and best of all, look after your health.

If you're stuck for ideas or just looking for a bit of inspiration,

Scottish Natural Heritage's main websit - http://www.snh.gov.uk/enjoying-the-outdoors/why-the-outdoors/http://www.snh.gov.uk/enjoying-the-outdoors/why-the-outdoors/    

(updated 14th November 2014 )


Here are a few popular walks in the Highlands

Sandwood Bay, Sutherland This amazing beach in the middle of nowhere. It feels untouched by human beings." Despite its remoteness this perfect arc of sand and dunes is popular with day-trippers.

Ben Nevis, At 4,409 ft this is Britain's highest mountain is a mecca for walkers. This formidable presence rises into the mist behind Fort William.

Loch Carriagean cairn From Aviemore take the B9152 towards Boat of Garten. After about 2km turn right into the road to the Quarry, Follow the road across the bridge, when you get to the railway line turn left and follow the track for about 1mile to Loch nan Carriagean. Dun da Lamh, low-level walk in the Cairngorms with "fantastic views". It's not very high, about 500m

Lairig Ghru A 22-mile hike across the glen and over the mountain range's, surrounded on all sides by broken granite and steep glaciated slopes.

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