Mapping Scotland's Paths

Scotland has fantastic access rights and landscapes, but sadly Scottish maps don’t show a comprehensive overview of our path network. 

We believe there is great potential to improve the mapping of paths in Scotland, to help more people get active and healthy and to feel confident to explore our wonderful nature and landscapes.

That’s why we've embarked upon the Mapping Scotland’s Paths project. 

Our trial
To begin to address the issue, in summer 2019 we began a 12-month trial in the west of the Central Belt, to see if we could find 'hidden', unmapped paths.

We collected information on paths in the region, using data donated by 14 organisations who manage and maintain paths there. 

The trial region included North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park – as well as parts of Argyll & Bute and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. 
 
In West Dunbartonshire alone, data found in the trial suggests there is a potential path network of more than 300 miles, more than double the length currently shown on Ordnance Survey leisure maps. 
 
The ‘hidden paths’ found during the trial include some popular routes, like the core path up Duncolm Hill - which at 401 metres is the highest point in West Dunbartonshire and the Kilpatrick Hills. 

National roll-out
The trial showed the huge potential to help many more people enjoy these hidden paths – offering better links between communities, new opportunities for fun days out, and more space for people to boost their health outdoors.

The eye-catching results suggested there may be thousands of miles of unmapped ‘hidden paths’ on the ground in Scotland. 

In summer 2020 we announced a national roll-out of the project, working towards the ultimate aim of publishing easily-accessible data showing paths right across Scotland, including far more than the 21,000km of ‘core paths’.  
 
We are also working with many partner organisations to agree a definition of what standards a path should meet for it to be mapped.

Can you help?
Work is ongoing to audit this data on the ground to ensure it is accurate and useful before publication – and we’d love you to get involved!

To express interest in volunteering to help with the on-the-ground auditing, please get in touch.

And if you’re part of an organisations with path datasets, it'd be great to discuss how we can include them in the Mapping Scotland’s Paths project. Email us.

Context
The project supports the aims of our Out There campaign, which is working to make it much easier for everyone to enjoy our outdoors. 

Ramblers Scotland commissioned an independent survey in 2018 which showed that three-quarters of Scottish adults think that more paths on the ground and on maps would help people get active. 
 
The Mapping Scotland’s Paths project has received generous funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

If you'd like to get involved, or have any questions, please email mappingscotlandspaths@ramblers.org.uk.

 
 

How has the project been impacted by COVID-19

The project was paused between April and the end of June as the project manager was furloughed.

This length of the project will be extended to cover this time.

As of 1 July, work on the project has restarted with a focus on expanding Mapping Scotland’s Paths further across the country and identifying technical solutions to help us achieve our objectives.

How can I keep up with the progress of the project?

We will regularly update this page as the project progresses. If you work for a partner organisation and would like more regular updates, please let us know and we will added to you to our distribution list for regular email updates. We'll keep Ramblers Scotland members informed throughout the project.

How can partner organisations get involved with the project?

If you are within the Proof of Concept area, you could contact us about attending occasional steering group meetings. These meetings will act as a means to discuss project progress, next steps and ways that the dataset can be of benefit.

Regardless of where you're based, if you have data which could contribute to the project across Scotland, we'd love to hear from you! Ideally we will need data in a shapefile or other GIS format.

You can also receive our Mapping Scotland's Paths newsletter by emailing us

What are the timescales for the project?

Our project manager joined on a two-year contract in summer 2019. The first meeting of the Proof of Concept partners took place in early October 2019. The Proof of Concept dataset was completed by summer 2020, with the further roll-out across Scotland announced in August 2020.

Where is the Proof of Concept based?

The proof of concept area will focus on a section of the west of Scotland taking in North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and a part of Argyll & Bute. The area also contains a section of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park and Clyde Muirshiel regional park. 

Who will benefit from the project?

Everyone! Once it's complete, everyone will be able to freely access the dataset we produce. That means you can use it to find paths, create routes and promote walking opportunities within your area. We believe that providing people with better knowledge of paths in their area, we can help get more people active and improve the physical and mental health of the nation.
 

Will the data be open to all?

Yes, the network of paths created through this project will be publicly-available and free for everyone to use. We hope that it will encourage more people to be active and enjoy Scotland’s landscapes and world-class access rights.