VETERAN actress Sheila Hancock could inspire hundreds of walkers to take to Scotland’s hills and mountains, it has been claimed.

The Olivier Award-winning actress, 85, stars in Edie, a film about an octogenarian tackling the iconic Scottish mountain Suilven, which is released on Friday during National Walking Month.

VisitScotland says that while 34.6 million day trips in Scotland last year involved walking outdoors, the movie will inspire more visitors to pull on their hiking boots.

The life-affirming film stars Hancock as an 83-year-old widow who decides to climb the 731m tall mountain in Sutherland -- a feat which she carried out for real during filming -- to prove to herself and everyone else that it is never too late.

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The film also stars the scenery of Assynt, and the national tourism organisation believes it could further boost hillwalking trips to Scotland.

Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland, said: “Sutherland is a beautiful part of Scotland and all its magnificence is up there on-screen in Edie.

“Films shot in Scotland not only boost the local economy during production but provide a shop window for the country’s amazing landscapes.

“With its emotive message of seizing the moment, we hope this life-affirming story will further inspire viewers to follow in the footsteps of Edie and explore Scotland’s great outdoors.”

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The latest Great Britain Day Visitor Survey reveals there were 34.6 million day trips in Scotland in 2017 which involved an outdoor activity such as walking, with 9 million of those trips taking place in the countryside.

Walking is one of the most popular topics searched on the VisitScotland website, with more than 670,000 page views for articles related to the activity last year. A page on “Munro-bagging” was viewed on average 85 times per day in 2017, up from 68 the year before.

VisitScotland’s Insight paper on walking, published last year, estimates the activity generates up to £1.26 billion for the Scottish economy. It found walking is most popular with those aged 55-64 but millennials make up more than a quarter (26%) of visitors participating in long walks.

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And Edie may not be alone in her endeavours, with 12% visitors taking part in a long walk, hike or ramble aged 65 or over. The age group also accounts for more than one in five (21%) of those who took a short walk or stroll up to two miles or one hour.