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Forestry and Land Scotland to begin phased reopening of its Highland car park sites as Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown travel restrictions begin to ease

By Philip Murray

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Walkers enjoying the woodland walks at Contin, near Strathpeffer.
Walkers enjoying the woodland walks at Contin, near Strathpeffer.

FOREST car parks in the Highlands will begin a phased reopening from tomorrow onwards, as Covid-19 travel restrictions begin to ease.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), the national body which looks after many forestry sites, is starting to open its forest car parks although its public toilets will remain closed for coronavirus safety reasons and visitors are being reminded to "go before you go".

The majority of FLS' car parks will gradually reopen, although at this stage most of the larger visitor centres and their parking facilities will remain closed while safe working practices for staff and visitors are put in place.

It said it aims "to have these larger centres re-opened as soon as it’s safe to do so".

The public are being urged to check the FLS website for the status of particular sites before they visit.

Walking trails have been open throughout the lockdown and are there for more people to enjoy as travel restrictions are eased. Most mountain bike routes remain closed for now.

CEO for Forestry and Land Scotland, Simon Hodgson said: “I’m really pleased that we can start a phased re-opening of car parks and welcome more visitors to our forests and woodlands. We are not quite at the stage where we can re-open everything but we are getting there as quickly as we can.

“It has been a difficult time for everyone and this includes our staff. I would ask that all visitors are considerate with our staff – we are all in this together and learning a “new normal”.

“We know that visitors are keen to use the car parks and this may result in some very busy periods. Please be prepared to adapt your plans and have an alternative location in mind in case your forest destination looks too busy.

“Please remember that although restrictions are easing, the virus is still there so follow the physical distancing guidance and stay safe, protect others and save lives.”

FLS has also urged the public to be responsible and leave the countryside as they found it. The plea came after its staff spent "a lot of time tidying up after anti-social behaviour".

The public are being asked to take home their litter, and be kind and considerate to all others using the forest.

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