Thirty new long distance routes are to be added to Scotland’s network of trails, cycleways and canal towpaths, as part of a national project to give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and travel sustainably.
These additions will extend the path network by 500 miles over the next five years, joining up and improving existing routes.
The announcement was made yesterday by Cabinet Secretary for Planning Alex Neil at the launch of the National Walking and Cycling project plan.
Scottish Natural Heritage, Sustrans and Scottish Canals, who are behind the initiative, want Scotland to develop a strategic path network to equal the best in Europe, making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors.
'We want to make sure that the network offers something for everyone' said Ian Ross, Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage.
'[W]ith rural routes offering peace and quiet, great views and the chance to get close to nature; paths between settlements to help local people commute away from traffic; high spec surfaces in places for people in wheelchairs and cyclists and more varied paths for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders.'
'The most important thing is to give people the chance to access and enjoy the outdoors close to where they live – irrespective of their age or mobility. And on the back of that we hope that people will embrace healthier, more active and sustainable lifestyles.'
Feasibility studies are already underway for a North Solway coastal path, parts of a ‘Pilgrim’s Way’ across Scotland between St Andrews and Iona, and to extend the Clyde walkway in Lanarkshire. Major improvements on canal towpaths have begun and there are also plans to improve existing long distance routes such as the Cowal Way and the Clyde Coast path. While work will be carried out over the next five years, the national development is also long term, with the project plan setting out a strategy for the network over the next 20 years.