More needs to be done to meet demand for paths
More needs to be done to meet growing demand for path networks in Scotland, according to a paper going to the board of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on Tuesday (18th August).

There are around 84,000km of paths and tracks in Scotland, 20,000km of which are signposted or waymarked. Local and national park authorities are nearing the completion of core path planning, with implementation underway in some places to provide a basic network of routes.

Despite the improvements that are being made to path networks the paper argues that it is not enough. Current indications are that path distribution remains uneven. There are also issues relating to accessibility, quality and promotion which need to be addressed. And growing numbers of people are using paths for a wide variety of reasons, including recreation, environmental and for health reasons

The SNH board will consider the publication of a statement setting the strategic direction for the next stage of path development in Scotland, along with a new approach to securing the benefits for Scotland’s people of integrated and connected path networks.

Andrew Bachell, director of operations at SNH, said:
“As things stand we don’t believe existing paths will meet the full aspirations of users. The evidence is there of increasing demand for traffic-free routes as more people choose to combine natural healthy exercise with short and long distance travel.

“We should all be delighted with such trends and we are encouraged by them, but to service the demand and bring the health benefits to more people we will need to strengthen the network of routes. There should also be more options for longer journeys by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. We also want to create more economic benefits by linking the network to more communities across Scotland.”

In the paper SNH is proposing a series of actions that it will take to support the next stage of path development. These include:

• Undertaking research to inform and improve future strategic planning and funding of path networks;

• Helping to improve the availability of information on paths, including web based provision and promotion;
• Helping to develop and promote the long distance route network; and
• Developing and demonstrating good practice approaches to path management


Scottish Natural Heritage is the Government’s advisor on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For further information visit our website at

The paper ‘Paths - Linking people, places and nature’ can be downloaded through the following link on the SNH website:

The SNH Board meeting on Tuesday 18th August will take place at Apex House, Haymarket, Edinburgh, starting at 11:30. Members of the public are welcome to attend and papers are available on the SNH website

Further media information contact:
Iain Ross, SNH Public Relations 01463 725024