More than 100 miles of new paths to be created across Scotland

Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham with dog walker Dave Alsson.
Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham with dog walker Dave Alsson.

More than 100 miles of new and improved paths will be created across Scotland as part of a scheme to boost outdoor access.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is celebrating the construction of hundreds of routes through improving public access, part of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.

By the end of this year, an equivalent distance to the length of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William, 96 miles, will have been funded by the scheme.

The new and improved paths will connect towns and villages and provide a great variety of ways to explore the outdoors in coastal areas, along riverbanks, to viewpoints and around farmland.

SNH has been working with the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division to deliver the scheme, with a total of £8.5 million committed.

Since opening in 2015 a wide range of projects have benefited with funding to improve existing paths or create new ones.

A newly-established access path is proving popular at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, where previously tree roots and muddy hollows restricted some from enjoying the riverside walk there.

Some of Scotland’s longer distance routes have also experienced improvements, including sections of the South Loch Ness trail and the Rob Roy and Speyside Ways.

In total 138 projects have been funded, with 52 due to be completed in 2019.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “What better way to mark the successful conclusion of May’s National Walking Month than to announce so many new walking paths for people to enjoy, connecting our towns and villages with Scotland’s amazing countryside.

“Thanks in part to EU funding, these new and improved pathways, should encourage even more people to get outside and participate in recreational activities, with all the associated benefits for physical and mental health.

“The Scottish Government is very proud to fund this initiative, as we continue to champion the right to responsible access across Scotland.”

Francesca Osowska, SNH chief executive, said: “Good quality and well sign-posted paths can make it easier for more people to enjoy our great outdoors so  with summer ahead it’s fantastic to be able to celebrate the success of this scheme in delivering so many quality routes across the country.”