Mountaineers Do Their Bit for the Environment

Logo: Mountaineering Council of Scotland

We all have the right to responsible access to almost all land in Scotland under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) was very involved in the preparation of the accompanying Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and our commitment to access and conservation continues to be a strong theme in our work. The legislation is about rights based on access to area, but humans are creatures of habit and the vast majority follow popular linear routes. These vary through paths worn by feet, repaired linear erosion, and constructed paths.

Tens of thousands of pounds are spent every year on upland path work in Scotland. Everyone going into the uplands can do their bit to reduce their impact, repair damage or contribute to the funds for this work. Through the website, magazine (The Scottish Mountaineer) and advisory guidance, MCofS promotes understanding, provides advice and raises the profile of ways to help conserve the places you enjoy; for yourself and future generations. Many ways you can help cost you absolutely nothing.

  • Scree slopes are an important and vulnerable habitat. Avoid damage to them by finding another route unless there is absolutely no other route you can take.
  • If there is an erosion scar, walk within its boundaries to avoiding spreading the erosion. Alternatively completely avoid the whole area.
  • It is far better to follow a zig-zag route rather than kicking in to soil like you do into snow in order to go straight up a slope.
  • Use the lightest footwear appropriate to safe traverse of the terrain.

You could also consider volunteering for path repair projects; information about where to find out about these opportunities can be found at . Even if you simply cleared the stones and soil from a drainage channel across a path each time you are out, the requirements for maintenance would be greatly reduced. This would have considerable affect if everyone did it.

MCofS also works at the strategic level as part of Upland Path Advisory Group (to ensure quality and appropriateness of path repair), National Access Forum (to promote responsible access), and with landowners (to provide support and advice). Recently we achieved the prioritisation of upland path repair in a number of important regions as part of the new Scottish Rural Development Programme payments.

If you find a path suffering from serious erosion, please e-mail MCofS the grid reference of the start and end of the section of path and a digital image. This will help us focus our efforts on applying pressure to have erosion repaired, or paths maintained.

MCofS continues to fight for your rights to access the uplands and crag environments of Scotland, and for its good quality management; read more at

The MCofS is the representative membership body for hill walkers, climbers and ski-tourers in Scotland.  Membership of the MCofS is open to individuals and clubs, with both categories enjoying a wide range of benefits including a members' discount scheme.  As well as gaining personal benefits, MCofS members provide vital support to the staff and volunteer board members, and assist the Council's work in the following areas.

The MCofS's Access and Conservation work includes protecting Scottish Access Rights and promoting guidance on the responsibilities of those exercising access rights, as well as seeking to gain greater protection for Scotland's mountains and crags.

Another key area of work for the MCofS is in Safety and Skills, where the emphasis is on communicating messages about self-reliance to all types of mountaineer.  As well as running subsidised training courses, the MCofS also organises an informative and entertaining winter safety lecture series.

The MCofS is actively involved in supporting the development of indoor climbing through youth development initiatives, support for climbing walls and climbing competitions.

Members receive a quarterly magazine "Scottish Mountaineer" and the MCofS website at is a great source of information for all those interested in Scottish mountains.

The organisation is now known as Mountaineering Scotland

First published in CJS Focus on Rights of Way and Access in association with The Institute of Public Rights of Way Management on 19 May 2008