Flying in the Highlands of Scotland?

Jeez, I appreciate that’s Prince Charles’s house, but getting his own permanent FRZ seems a bit unfair.


So this post has run for a while and there have been many options expressed. As a newbie, what’s the final word. Can you fly under certain circumstances. If this is the case what’s the process to get permission.


Yes, and it’s usually not something you need permission for… since the Highland Restricted Area is only active if there’s a specific notice in place to activate it, if there isn’t you can just fly.

Basically, if you click on it in the map* and it just gives the generic “Fly to the drone code” warning, you’re fine and can put the drone up (within the drone code).

If you click on it and there’s a NOTAM showing (as in the video I posted above for Birkhall) then read the details and see what it says. It might be the HRA is to be activated in the coming weeks and it’s advance notice, might be that it’s active now and you can’t fly. Will depend on the circumstances.

Bear in mind that the HRA is actually made up of four different restricted areas so zoom in on the map on the specific area you’re flying to be sure you’re checking the right part.**

If there is a NOTAM activating it, it will also have the contact number for the military who you can call to see if you can get permission to fly during the activation… I believe they used to be fairly open to giving permission as it was active Mon-Thu 10am-3pm and they weren’t always using it. As it will now only be active when they are on manoeuvres they may be a little less easygoing. I don’t know though, so worth a call?

Sorry, that’s quite a long answer for “the final word”, but it’s a legality thing and it doesn’t boil down to a constant yes/no. More a ‘maybe’ :slight_smile:

(*by ‘map’ Im talking about the official NATS map ( I’ve spotted a problem with the DroneScene one for this scenario, but I won’t confuse this reply with it. Stick to the official NATS one for the HRA and you’ll be fine).

(**There are also danger areas in close proximity to the HRA covering places like Tain and the Cape Wrath bombing range… another reason to check the precise location you’re flying :slight_smile: )


Sorry, been mulling this over and realised I keep banging on about NOTAMs like that makes sense. :flushed:

NOTAMs (‘Notice to Airmen’) are official communications from, in the UK, the Civial Aviation Authority to inform pilots of potential hazards or changes to airspace which they’ll (we’ll) need to know about when planning a flight. You’ll see them for temporary obstructions like fireworks displays or tall cranes, or they will be used to put temporary airspace restrictions in, such as to notify pilots that the Highlands Restricted Area is going to be active between certain dates/times.

There’s a CAA portal you can go to and search them, but (see the example I posted above for Birkhall) they’re pretty dull reading and it can be a hassle to find out whether they’re relevant to your flight when reading them cold like that. Fortunately, the ones we need to know about are included in the NATs map.


Brilliant stuff @JoeC a great explanation and really most helpful. Thanks for taking the time to spell all this out. :clap:

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I have couple of questions regarding Highlands Restricted area I will be going to Scotland in couple of weeks time can I fly in this zone I am staying in Saltburn would like to go out to sea get some pictures old oil rigs they is not a no fly zone in place so should be ok flying there would also like to fly Fyrish Monument but that is in a Highland Restricted area and my final question is on my way to Saltburn would like to stop at Edinburgh to get some shots of Forth Bridge is that in a no fly zone know if not where is best place for me to take off.

You’d probably be best looking at the North side of the Forth Rail Bridge around North Queensferry. That way you’ll avoid the NFZ for Edinburgh Airport.


ok thanks Dave I will have a look in to that.

Are you actually heading out on a boat or will you be taking off from the shore? The rigs are deceptively big and are a lot further out than they look - particularly from the north shore of the firth. You might find it easier to head around to Cromarty and take off from the southern shore? If it’s running, the little ferry from Balnabruaich to Cromarty is quite pleasant.

I’ve not flown there but been there often enough to guess you’ll want to be mindful of the winds, especially once you get out towards the rigs.

Looking forward to seeing the results :slight_smile:

I am going to see if I can get a boat out to the rigs hopefully can find somebody I am there for 5 days.


Hi Joe how would you go about flying at Fyrish Monument not far from where I am staying it’s in a no fly zone I think it is only active Monday to Friday midday to 1:00 pm expect for Thursday 2:00 pm I was thinking of ringing MOD low level advisory service of any UAV flight by contacting them on 0800 515544.

First up… everything I’m about to say is only my understanding. In your shoes I’d also be calling the numbers to check. I don’t trust me, so you should get a second opinion too :wink:

With that said…

My understanding is that the Scotland TTA - LFA 14(T) - is pretty much the same area as R610A, which is a part of the Highlands Restricted Area.

Where you’ll be is in R610D, which is part of the HRA but not the same as LFA 14(T) (I think!).

NATS specifies that R610A-D are active only via NOTAM, so if there’s no NOTAM they shouldn’t be active.

BUT… I would still be giving the 0800 number a ring, as well as RAF Wittering on the number on the screenshot below.

I’ll also add… be careful if you’re driving east because you aren’t many miles from the Tain Range (D703) which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

I’ll tell you who else I’d be checking with (and hopefully if I’m wrong in anything above he’ll jump in and correct me)… @MrMPW - he knows a thing or six about these things.


Some good info here.

You ca also ring the RAF Low Flying Booking Cell free on 0800 515544. Tel them where (lat/long) and when you are flying. They won’t give out actual info for obvious reasons but they will have a chat.

We regularly get low flying military stuff round here in the Peak District and I have never yet seen a Notam for any of it so don’t rely on Notams for military and emergency services flights.

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Ok thanks mate I will probably give them a ring couple of days before I go to find out what I need to do if I want to fly there

Hi, our family own a house in the Highlands. I wonder if you can advise me about restricted areas in Scotland if you’ve flown there often? I’m aware that any ‘forest parks’ are no go areas without permission, but wondered about large chunks of the barren Highlands Ullapool way and West coast?

Same question from me - are there any restrictions on shooting on Ben Nevis - can’t see any anywhere but wondered about local knowledge…

Probably better to head over to Flying in the Highlands of Scotland? for the broader discussion on this. :slight_smile:

Maybe @GADC_Committee could move these two posts over to continue the chat? :slight_smile:


I see the next addition to the committee…

I’ll have a look in the different discussion room thank you. New here and trying to get familiar with everything :+1:

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gasp :open_mouth: :wink: :rofl:

So yes, Ullapool and a lot of the surrounding area does fall within the HRA (and LFA) discussed earlier in this thread, so you’d need to check if either is active when you want to fly.

Best bet is to check Drone Scene and/or Drone Assist for the specific area you want to fly in close to the time. The HRA is only active when there’s a NOTAM issued, both Drone Scene and Drone Assist should show any NOTAMs so you’ll know if it’s ‘on’.

The LFA is separate and needs a phone call.

Not if they’re managed by Forestry and Land Scotland. They’re pretty easy going if you’re flying for pleasure - stick to the drone code, don’t disturb the wildlife and follow the Outdoor Access Code.

National Trust for Scotland want you to ask in advance but sound like they’re pretty amenable.

Historic Environment Scotland won’t let you fly from their properties without a PfCO, but acknowledge in their policy that if you take off from adjacent land and fly over their land you just need to stick to the Drone Code.

As you’ll know, pretty much all of the Highlands is privately owned and those ‘barren’ bits will be part of a big estate. Technically, the Right of Access in the Land Reform Act excludes the use of ‘motorised vehicles’ which would include drone flights… but personally I’d be asking myself:

  • Is it restricted airspace?
  • Is it within the Drone Code?
  • Am I respecting the environment and wildlife?
  • Are there signs up prohibiting drone flights?
  • Am I being a dick if I do this?

(the last one is, to be fair, the thing that stops me more often than the others :wink: )