SCOTTISH nature reserves will stay open to help the public fight coronavirus anxiety, bosses say.

Visitor centres and toilets at the scenic sites will close "for the health and safety of both staff and visitors" amidst the Covid-19 restrictions.

However, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) says majority of its "beautiful" reserves will remain open to the public even as pubs, museums and other attractions close.

Those who do head out for a walk are asked to keep "following the social distancing guidelines set by the government".

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The Holyrood agency said: "This will be a very stressful and anxious time for many people, and spending time outdoors and connecting with nature can help improve physical and mental health. In a recent survey, around nine in 10 outdoors visitors reported benefits to their mental and physical wellbeing, with 67% saying it helped them to relax and unwind and 64% saying it improved their physical health."

There are more than 40 national nature reserves in Scotland.

They include Achanarras Quarry in Caithness, which is famed for its fossils, and Kirkconnell Flow near Dumfries. The ancient raised bog is one of the most threatened habitats in the world.

The agency is also responsible for the Isle of May National Nature Reserve near Anstruther, but the Fife's site's "exceptional local and circumstances" mean it will close to all visitors. Only the resident staff will be allowed there to continue care and maintenance work.

In addition, it is expected that Shetland's Noss National Nature Reserve will not open in May as planned, but this will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

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Stewart Pritchard, SNH senior advisor on nature reserves, commented:

“At SNH, we are working hard to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in a way that ensures we look after both our staff and the public we serve. Our advice is to take care of yourself and others by following the government’s social distancing guidelines and, when possible, relax and keep active by continuing to explore and enjoy local nature reserves, parks and spaces.

“Simple activities such as getting out for a walk, breathing fresh air, listening to birdsong or watching wildlife can all greatly improve our health during times of uncertainty and stress.”

Find details of national nature reserves in each area of Scotland at

For those unable to get out and about, there are also podcasts available, telling stories about Scotland’s nature, habitats, landscapes and native species, at