With lockdowns being eased across the country in various forms there has been plenty of chatter as to what that means in terms of being able to access the mountains and wild places. I am certainly itching to get out into the mountains but I think there has to be some caution taken with this. There has been a collection of advisories and statements of governing bodies and mountaineering councils which is essential reading to get a better picture of whats possible. Its also worth noting that even though on this is a tiny island as if annexing ourselves from Europe wasn’t enough we have annexed ourselves from ourselves and the rules are different in England, Wales and Scotland which its important to be consider.
The main message generally remains the same in many ways with it being ideally stay at home and exercise locally where possible. In England the exercise issue has come in with travel being unlimited which does open up various chances to get to climbing and walking areas but realistically if you are not in an area where this is then traveling long distances to get to them would be unreasonable. Also many of these areas are in places where small communities live and putting them at further risk by bringing the virus in from more populated areas would be very unfair. The crags and mountains are not going anywhere so there is no need to panic that you would never climb again, the only main issue you may face is that when you do you may have gained so much more weight that climbing will seem a lot harder than before! Rights of way and access has been hard won in many places and it would be wise to consider others and not threaten the long term access to places for the sake of an evening climb or walk. One other area to consider is that the rescue services would be limited with stretched resources so whatever you do make sure its well within your capabilities.
Im a little confused about the opening up of areas when the death and infection rate still seems to be very high, we have been given this risk rating of one to five but as we ease everything the risk still remains at four which seems very high. The coming weeks will show what effect the easing has. Hordes of people have been heading to beaches in the South as its been glorious weather and who can blame people in many ways after weeks of being in lockdown in built up cities and towns. There has been a lot of rather unpleasant rhetoric from the wild places of ‘not welcome here’ and cars being vandalised but it must be terrible to be in the cities and facing lockdown in crowded flats and houses so who can blame them for trying to make a dash for open spaces. I wonder how bad this opening up and people being out in the open and sunshine will be. Africa has not seen the explosive rates in infection and deaths as the West has. There have been some speculative reasons as to why that might have been, one reasons is that the majority of people in Kenya for example live outside with home really just being a place to sleep, out in the sunshine and fresh air, another that with the average age being much younger and also not suffering the same levels of obesity could all be factors in this. So perhaps getting out and about would actually be the best thing. I cannot think that people being in lockdown is having a good effect on peoples physical and mental health in the long run. Couple that with peoples jobs and finances taking a terrible plunge then perhaps a day at the beach and a swim in the sea could have far better effects than staying inside your stifling London flat.
The coming weeks will be interesting in terms of what opens up and what effect that has on the ‘R’ rating. I do however think that strong moves need to made into opening things back up again in a manageable way. The long term effects of peoples mental health, livelihood and general wellbeing cant withstand too much more lockdown measures. Where I have seen various messages on twitter on ‘why cant people stay at home’ often seem to be from people in nice parts of the country who can happily sit quietly in their gardens and have quiet walks without the issues millions are facing in the built up cities who are screaming to get out.
For now though there are no trips to offer at the moment its not practical in terms of being able to offer social distancing and responsible travel to meet groups or guests and also while all the areas still have facilities closed for the time being its a case of stay put watch and wait.
Here are some links on the use of the outdoors which are worth taking the time to read and keep up to date with.
Stay Alert and Safe