Who would want to stay indoors?

opening of the new Jubilee Path between Earlston and Leaderfoot on Sunday 24th. March.
opening of the new Jubilee Path between Earlston and Leaderfoot on Sunday 24th. March.

Borderers are an outdoorsy bunch, according to a 10-year government study.

For the area was second in a league table of people in each of Scotland’s regions visiting the outdoors for recreation at least once a week over three years.

Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) latest Scottish Recreation Survey (ScRS) found 64 per cent of locals headed for the outdoors for leisure, topped for keenness by those in Moray (65 per cent), followed by Highland (61 per cent) and Dumfries and Galloway (57 per cent) from 2009 to the end of 2011.

This report is the final in the series which has seen officials survey more than 100,000 people in Scotland annually since 2003.

Staff found ‘lack of time’ used to be the main barrier to visiting the outdoors ,but since 2008, ‘poor health’ has been why people have stayed in. Unsurprisingly twice as many people mentioned bad weather as a deterrent last year, compared to 2008.

More affluent people, in social grade AB, those who work and those with access to a car, visit the outdoors more (consistently around 90 per cent) than those in lower social bands and who don’t work (around 70 per cent) or have access to a car (60-70 perc ent) .

Nearly 80 per cent of Scots had made at least one visit to the outdoors for recreation in the last year while 20 percent of respondents never visited over the same period.

More than 40 per cent spent time in green spaces for leisure at least once a week last year and of those, nearly 90 per cent were golfing, 86 per cent were jogging, 78 per cent cycling and 77 per cent walking – and 80 per cent of them were out for less than three hours.

Over half of outdoors recreation visits were taken in the countryside while just over a third took place in a town or city.

The survey found increasing numbers of outdoor visits have been made in and around Scotland’s urban areas, with local parks or other open spaces the most popular destinations.

Visits dropped last year and officials said: “The influence of the poor summer weather in 2012 is evident.”

For numbers fell by over a quarter in the spring and exactly a quarter during the summer.

Over the decade, around three quarters of people spending time in the outdoors for recreation walk, up from around 70 per cent in 2004-6.

But only one or two per cent of those people are hill walking or mountaineering.

Total expenditure on outdoors visits is estimated at £2.6billion.

SNH’s people and places unit manager, Pete Rawcliffe, said: “The survey shows the important contribution the outdoors makes to the economy, as well as its role in increasing physical activity and improving health.

“The information gath ered has been particularly useful in showing the importance of providing good quality green spaces and path networks close to where people live.”

Results from a new survey, replacing the ScRS, are expected mid-2014.