1.1. Principles of Upland Pathwork
There are a variety of factors influencing the need for upland pathwork. As well as the overriding need to maintain the unique scenic quality of Scotland’s mountain landscapes, consideration must be given to recreation, safety, tourism and the needs of rural economies and communities.
Techniques are continually developing in response to these factors. There is demand for repair of more remote sites, but with less visible impact on the landscape, and combined with more durable surfaces. The aim should always be to build or repair using techniques that will withstand the pressures of path users, and climate, but will not detract from the experience of walking through an unrivalled and wild landscape.
To achieve this the following principles were formulated by the Path Industry Skills Group for pathwork in Scotland. They are based on the British Mountaineering Council’s policy statement on upland pathwork, later endorsed as ‘Guiding Principles’ by the House of Commons Environment Select Committee, in 1995.
- Pathwork will be carried out within a coherent management framework, including a commitment to long-term maintenance. It will integrate with other management objectives.
- An understanding of the underpinning philosophy and practice of path improvement is required of managing and funding agencies.
- Pathwork will be generated by area survey and prioritisation.
- Priority will be given to curtailing and restoring environmental damage, while also enhancing visitor experience.
- Environmental sensitivities will be given stringent regard, particularly in sites of outstanding landscape and/or natural heritage quality.
- Management of the path will be informed by suitable consultation with interested parties.
- The purpose of the path and its expected use will be defined and the path built to fit this purpose.
- Pathwork will be of the highest standard of design and implementation, preferably using locally sourced materials in harmony with the site.
- Good environmental practice will be paramount. No material won in works will be wasted. Techniques used will protect existing vegetation and cultural remains and the site will be left in as natural a state as is practicable.
- Those involved in the design, implementation and supervision of pathwork should be demonstrably professionally, and technically, competent.
- All work will be carried out in accordance with legal obligations and the requirements of current Health and Safety legislation.
Members of the Upland Path Advisory Group, the successor body to The Path Industry Skills Group, are striving to implement these principles to the highest standards. UPAG aims to encourage and ensure that all organisations involved in the funding, management and repair of paths in Scotland’s mountains and remote areas, subscribe to these principles. The industry is developing the skills and techniques to meet the needs and demands for quality pathwork.
The principles give guidance, and are supported in this manual by practical advice and information on construction standards, including the development of practical, judgmental and aesthetic skills. It is these standards that will be used for assessment towards pathwork qualifications.