As Scotland’s deer stalking season gets into full swing, a new web-based service has been launched with the aim of avoiding conflict between hillwalkers and stalkers.
The Heading for the Scottish Hills website allows walkers to check ahead for details of possible deer stalking taking place on estates where they plan to go walking.
It is hoped this will reduce the chance of disturbing stag stalking during the peak season from late summer to 20th October.
This year Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has worked with partners including Mountaineering Scotland and the Association of Deer Management Groups to create a more user-friendly service, which has expanded again this year, particularly in the north-west Highlands, and is accessible from mobiles and tablets.
The website - www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/hftsh - includes general information about stalking on all participating estates and contact details for further information.
There is also information about responsible behaviour for both land managers and walkers.
The site provides information on specific Munros, Corbetts and other popular hills. It also includes routes that are “always okay” and general information such as when the estate will start stag stalking and the days of the week when stalking doesn’t take place.
Fiona Cuninghame, SNH recreation and access officer, said: “The web service is a quick way to check that you won’t disturb deer stalking when heading to participating hills between July and October.
“We hope that you find the service easy to use and would welcome feedback. We expect the service to continue to grow, so if the hills you want to climb aren’t included on the site, it’s worth taking another look before you head out.”
James Orpwood, Mountaineering Scotland’s Access Officer, said: “Mountaineering Scotland has been closely involved with the Heading for the Scottish Hills website and is delighted to see it has expanded again this year.
“We encourage all hill-goers to check the website during the stalking season and contact the relevant estate if necessary.”
The website helps walkers follow the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to try and find out where stag stalking is taking place and who to contact if more information is required.
The Code also encourages walkers to take account of reasonable advice on alternative routes and to avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place.
Richard Cooke, Chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups, said: “The Association of Deer Management Groups has been involved with Heading for the Scottish Hills for more than 20 years, both in its initial book form and now in the online version.
“We would like to see this resource as the ‘go to’ source of information for people taking recreational access in the Highlands of Scotland and are pleased that an increasing number of Deer Management Groups are signing up. Clearly it is in our members’ interests also to make this information available.”