Access in the Stag Stalking Season (1st July - 20th October)
The MCofS approach is to promote coexistence between walkers and stalkers. There should be no need for a total ban on access over large areas such as a whole estate, nor a need to avoid going up the hills. It just means you may have to adapt your chosen route. Alternative access should almost always be available to the same destination. Walking up and down hills by following the main ridges, rather than through corries, often helps stalkers. The MCofS's approach is of problem-solving and this led to the publication of Heading for the Scottish Hills (HFTSH) book in 1987. The start of August 2010 saw a pilot web-based version of HFTSH and in the short term ran in parallel with Hillphones.
What the Scottish Outdoor Access Code Says about Deer Stalking on the Open Hill
Advice to access users - Deer management can take place during many months of the year but the most sensitive time is the stag stalking season (usually from 1 July to 20 October, but with most stalking taking place from August onwards). During this season, you can help to minimise disturbance by taking reasonable steps to find out where stalking is taking place and by taking account of advice on alternative routes. Avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place. Stalking does not normally take place on Sundays.
Advice to land managers - Be aware of where recreational use is likely, such as along paths, popular routes and ridge lines. Tell people about where stalking is taking place by using a Hillphones service or by using signs and information boards (in accordance with this Code) to give on-the day information on stalking and alternative routes.
The Heading for the Scottish Hills Website is now the main way to find out about stalking. The initial pilot area has been expanded to cover even more areas with more than 20 additional properties mainly in the Breadalbane area. Many of the estates that are included are in the Cairngorm area. HFTSH has now replaced Hillphones as the sole service and can be accessed through here. We are very keen to receive experiences (good and bad) of HFTSH and Hillphones so please contact the Access Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any comments. In particular, please report if the website messages suggest there are huge areas "out of bounds". Any feedback would be very useful for further development of the service and it is important MCofS can represent your views at the advisory group.
The Hillphones system that operated successfully for many years has now been superceded by the Heading for the Scottish Hills website.
Heading for the Scottish Hills Book
For the first time in Scotland this gave contact details of the estate stalkers covering most of the popular hills. This allowed access users to contact the estates prior to a visit during the peak stalking time to obtain information about the location of stalking in order that they could then avoid disrupting it. Walkers and climbers were proving that they were only too willing to help. As a result, the number of enquiries taken by some estate staff was becoming too onerous. The most simple solution was to have a recorded message system that could be accessed by many people, without disrupting the lives of estate staff. This was the birth of Hillphones.