Outdoor personalities, politicians and access campaigners came together at the Scottish Parliament last night to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the nation's world-class access legislation. Event organisers Ramblers Scotland also introduced their new Out There campaign, which seeks to get more poeple walking and to promote the development of paths.
Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Richard Lochhead MSP were among the 100 guests at the Celebrating Scotland's Outdoors event, which was attended by Ramblers members, several other MSPs, and local authority and national park representatives, as well as well-known personalities such as Ramblers Scotland president Ben Dolphin and broadcaster Cameron McNeish. UKHillwalking went along too.
Following many years of campaigning by Ramblers Scotland and others, the 2003 Act secured rights of access to most of Scotland's land and inland water for walkers, climbers, cyclists, horse-riders, canoeists and other non-motorised users – provided those rights are exercised responsibly.
Richard Lochhead, MSP for Moray, said: "The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 remains one of the major successes of the Scottish Parliament in its first term, and there was strong cross-party support for the establishment of statutory access rights. I'm delighted to celebrate this achievement, and recognise the opportunity for us all to work together to encourage even more people to enjoy the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation."
Ramblers Scotland introduced its new Out There campaign to MSPs at the event. Out There aims to get more paths on the ground and on maps, to make it easier for more people to enjoy the benefits of Scotland's access rights and landscapes.
Jess Dolan, director of Ramblers Scotland, said:
"15 years on since the passing of the Land Reform Act, there is so much to celebrate. Scotland is now firmly at the top of the outdoor access charts and recreational walking is booming, up 13% in six years."
"Thankfully, conflict between user groups and landowners remains rare, due in no small part to the common sense approach of all – from farmers and foresters, to walkers and cyclists."
"15 years from now we want many more people to benefit from our world-class access rights and landscapes, which is why we've launched our new Out There campaign."
- For more information on Out There, go to ramblers.org.uk/outthere