HILL WALKERS are being urged to check online for deer stalking updates before setting off to enjoy Scotland's hills.

NatureScot has asked visitors to Scotland's beauty spots during the busiest part of the season to be mindful that it is also a very busy time for land managers involved with deer.

The 'Heading for the Scottish Hills' website – which was launched in 2015 – provides details on deer stalking on estates up to late October to help walkers avoid disturbing the activity, which contributes to the rural economy and helps protect woodland and other habitats.

The website includes advice on where and when stag stalking is taking place on each estate, provides details on who to contact for more information and includes routes that are ‘always okay’ for walkers. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also encourages walkers to follow reasonable advice from land managers on alternative routes and to avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place.

NatureScot Recreation, Access and Paths Officer, Fiona Cuninghame, said: “Some people may be discovering the joys of exploring our hills and mountains for the first time which is fantastic – but it’s also important to bear in mind that this can be a very busy time for land managers," she continued.

“Our Heading for the Scottish Hills website is a great resource to help walkers have a great day out without disturbing deer stalking in their chosen area, as well learning about your rights and responsibilities more generally under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”

The information can also be accessed through the Walkhighlands website, with relevant stalking details provided on the page for each walk.

Mountaineering Scotland’s Access Officer, Davie Black, said: “We have been involved with Heading for Scottish Hills since it started and encourage all walkers to check the website during the stalking season and contact the relevant estate if they have further questions.”

Chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups, Tom Turnbull, added: “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 land managers are signing up.

“Given that we are anticipating and experiencing much higher visitor numbers to our hills this year – and that is a good thing – information such as this is vital so that deer managers can deliver their culls safely and with minimal disturbance.”

Find more information on the website at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/hftsh.