Mapping Scotland's Paths

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.  Below you can find out more about progress to date and how you can get involved with the project this spring.

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 almost 500 kilometres, 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’.  
 
Since then we have been working with a small group of volunteers trialling a range of customised technical solutions. These solutions can be used to gather useful information about existing paths as well as capture new and currently unmapped paths to add to and improve our network. 

We are now in the process of expanding our volunteering group and gathering as much data as possible on the path network in Scotland. Later in the year we will be releasing data from the Mapping Scotland’s Paths project to the public.

Can you help?
During spring and into the summer in 2021 we will be expanding our group of volunteers to further test and improve the Mapping Scotland’s Paths network and systems – and we’d love you to get involved!

To express interest in volunteering to help with the on-the-ground auditing or capturing previously unmapped paths, you can find out more about our volunteering opportunity here

And if you’re part of an organisation with path datasets, or a community group who may want to be involved, it'd be great to discuss how we can include you 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 2020 as the project manager was furloughed.

The project is now back operating at full capacity and the length of the project will be extended to November 2021, to cover the time lost to furlough.

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

We 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 add 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 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.

If you are a community group, please feel free to contact us to discuss ways in which we could potentially work together.

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

What kind of volunteering opportunities are there, and when can I sign up?

Volunteering to assist with the Mapping Scotland’s Paths project will generally involve going out and about exploring your local area. You will be able to either gather information about paths which are in our network to make the data more robust and useful or capture new paths that have not previously been mapped.

We will be expanding the project and recruiting more volunteers at multiple points throughout 2021. The first of these will be in the spring, with a further expansion planned for the summer. 

If you are interested in getting involved please email mappingscotlandspaths@ramblers.org.uk or find out more information about the volunteering opportunity here.

 

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.

Throughout 2021 we will be expanding our volunteer base to get more people involved in gathering data about their local path network. 

With the extension due to furlough, the project is currently due to run until November 2021. The aim is for the project to continue beyond this date and work is underway to scope out Phase 2 of the project and to secure funding for this. We want to ensure a sustainable future for the database we’re creating. 

Where is the Proof of Concept based?

The proof of concept area focussed 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.