People urged to explore long distance routes

A BIG push to encourage more people to use Scotland’s long distance routes, including the Southern Upland Way, Borders Abbey and St Cuthbert’s Way was launched last week by Scottish Minister for the Environment Stewart Stevenson MSP.

For the first time, the best of Scotland’s long distance paths are being promoted as a suite of trails, known as Scotland’s Great Trails.

Stretching from the Borders to the Highlands, the 20 trails provide 1300 miles of scenic, high quality paths around the country.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is behind the initiative to inspire more people to use the routes for short as well as long trips, helping promote them as a great way to discover more of Scotland by foot, bike and horseback.

Launching the campaign, Mr Stevenson himself stepped out for a short walk on the Formartine and Buchan Way, a 53-mile trail that runs from the north of Aberdeen to Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

Commenting on the initiative, he said: “Enjoying the great outdoors is hugely important to our health and wellbeing. It also plays a major role in Scotland’s economy, particularly as a destination for tourism. We are fortunate in this country to have so many long trails running through some fantastic landscapes from our world-renowned walks to more hidden treasures.

“It’s entirely appropriate that these trails be promoted to as many people as possible, for shorter outings as much as the more serious long distance trips. The benefits of enjoying the outdoors are well documented, and this is an excellent way to reap those benefits.”

To help people make more of Scotland’s Great Trails, SNH and VisitScotland have produced a handy guide featuring short trips on all 20 long distance routes.

Ian Jardine, SNH chief executive said: “There is something for everyone in these trails. You can follow rivers from their source to the sea. You can immerse yourself in history, travel along old transport routes and find peace and quiet in wild, rugged landscapes.

“You can even get a blast of sea air on one of the coastal trails. Many are suitable for cycling or horse riding as well. And of course you don’t have to do the whole route.

“We hope the guide will encourage people to explore trails close to where they live, and enjoy some of our finest countryside as well as the sights, sounds and smells along the way. Most also offer regular opportunities for refreshments and have interesting places to visit.”

Information on each of Scotland’s Great Trails is available from the Scottish Natural Heritage, VisitScotland and Walkhighlands websites. For a free copy of the guide ring SNH publications on 01738 458530 or email pubs@snh.gov.uk