Paths

Shared use paths

In Scotland, walkers, cyclists and horseriders have equal rights.  However, this right only exists if it is used responsibly and it may not be responsible for a cyclist or horserider to use particular routes in certain conditions, such as if a path is narrow or has a fragile surface.  Riders may need to modify their behaviour if the path is busy with other users – cyclists should slow down and use their bell, or get off their bikes and push, and walkers should be prepared to let others pass.  People with a disability using a motorised vehicle adapted for their use are able to use these vehicles in the countryside.  Guidance on responsible access is given in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Long distance routes

There are currently 23 long distance routes in Scotland, known as Scotland's Great Trails. These range from the Ayrshire Coastal Path to the Great Glen Way and offer waymarked, high quality routes for multi-day journeys or short, circular walks.  In addition there are a number of other long distance routes which do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the Scotland's Great Trails portfolio, or which offer a more remote experience, such as the Cape Wrath Trail, which is not waymarked.

For more details about paths and trails in Scotland, and guidance on getting involved in Local Access Forums contact the Ramblers Scotland office on 0131 472 7006 or scotland@ramblers.org.uk.

Developing path networks

Scotland has world-class rights of access to most land and inland water, and yet our path density is one of the lowest in Europe.  We have the right to walk over most land in Scotland, as long as we do so responsibly, but compared to England and Wales we have very few paths to use, especially in lowland areas.  Ramblers Scotland is working to improve this situation.

A lot of farmland in Scotland lacks clear, waymarked paths and many areas would benefit from better path networks, both to create walking and cycling links between communities and to give easier access to the countryside.  Having more paths would benefit us all in many ways and being able to walk or cycle from your front door for short journeys would make our towns and villages more pleasant places in which to live.

The Scottish access legislation contains a duty for all access authorities to draw up a network of core paths in their area.  Many Ramblers groups and members have taken part in local consultations for these plans, and some are members of Local Access Forums which advise local authorities and national park authorities on access issues.  You can find a link to all adopted core path plans on the Scottish Natural Heritage website. 

Rights of way also exist in Scotland but there is no definitive map and they are not marked on OS maps.  Far fewer rights of way have been secured than south of the border.  Many paths may not be shown on maps but actually do exist on the ground, particularly for more popular routes.

Why not find out what is happening near you, and join in? If you are disappointed with the path provision in your area, contact your local councillor to ask for more paths.

Here are some of the things our groups have been doing:

  • St Andrews Group published a leaflet outlining 14 walks around Cupar with financial support from Awards for All and SNH
  • Cunninghame group published a book of 25 walks in the area to celebrate its 25th anniversary