A new project that hopes to change the way we think about and fund path maintenance in Scotland has been given an early boost with the award of a substantial grant.
'It's Up to Us', a partnership campaign from the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) and Mountaineering Scotland, has been awarded the Scottish Mountaineering Trust's 60th anniversary Diamond Grant of £100,000. The money will go towards a prototype project to restore heavily eroded trails on An Teallach.
As a replacement for lost European and Government funding, the campaign seeks to develop a new funding model for path renovation projects that brings together conservation interests, hill users, and landowners. The aim is to encourage the public, Government and agencies to recognise the social, economic and environmental benefits that can come from hill path repair and habitat restoration.
Many mountain users will be unaware of the cost of path building and the lack of funds for restoration projects on private land outside of Scotland's national parks and NGO estates. This campaign will target outdoor enthusiasts, and organisations with a stake in Scotland's hills and mountains, to raise the cash essential to maintain paths.
Mountaineering Scotland CEO, Stuart Younie, said: "Scotland's informal hill and mountain path network plays a vital role in helping us to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being active outdoors, which was never more evident than during the pandemic.
"Active tourism also makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy and to local communities across the highlands. Our access may be free from charges, but it does come at a cost, and we need to recognise the cumulative impact of recreational activity on our landscape and do something positive to address it so it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations."