Hill-walking and stalking
Access to Scotland's hills takes place under Scottish access rights. These rights must be exercised responsibly and land managers have to manage their land responsibly regarding access. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code explains what this means for hillwalkers: Deer management can take place during many months of the year but the most sensitive time is the stag stalking season (.. 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.
and for stalkers: 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 .. to give on-the-day information on stalking and alternative routes.
You can find out where stalking is taking place from local signs and leaflets, estate staff or 'Heading for the Scottish Hills' . If the land manager has indicated where stalking will take place you should avoid crossing that area and it is reasonable for them to ask you to follow alternative routes. Avoid wild camping in places where stalking is planned for the next day.
Land managers should not make it unreasonably difficult for you to access the hills, such as asking you to keep to low ground. Estates cannot always tell where they will be stalking in advance and most will be unable to say where more than a couple of days in advance, so it is not always possible for land managers to provide precise daily information and alternative routes. Some estates may provide more general messages - such as asking you to follow particular routes to the summits during the stalking season. These requests aim to reach a compromise between the needs of hillwalkers and stalkers, but because they apply for more than a day, they may include some times and places where stalking is not actually happening. You will need to judge whether such requests are reasonable.
If you have been unable to find out where stalking is taking place, for example because the estate is not in Heading for the Scottish Hills, it is responsible for you to go ahead with your walk, but take into account reasonable advice given locally or once you have started, such as on notice boards or given by a stalker. You may also wish to help by using paths and following ridges.
Local and National Park Authorities have key roles in upholding access rights and local access management. If you feel that a land manager has given you unreasonable advice, you can report this to the local access officer.