Scotland's Great Trails
Scotland's Great Trails are long-distance "people-powered" trails in Scotland, analogous to the National Trails of England and Wales or the Grande Randonnée paths of France. The designated routes are primarily intended for walkers, but may have sections suitable for cyclists and horse-riders; one of the trails, the Great Glen Canoe Trail, is designed for canoeists and kayakers. The trails range in length from 40 to 340 km, and are intended to be tackled over several days, either as a combination of day trips or as an end-to-end expedition.
In order to be classified as one of Scotland’s Great Trails, a route must fulfil certain criteria. Each of the routes must be clearly waymarked with a dedicated symbol, run largely off-road, and be at least 40 km in length. It is expected that visitor services will be present along the way, and that the route has an online presence to help visitors in planning their journey. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the custodian of the brand, maintaining the official list and providing some of the finance and publicity, but responsibility for creating and maintaining each route lies with the local authority(ies) through which a route passes. There are 29 routes, offering 3000 km of trails in total. Additionally, the northernmost 10 kilometres (6 mi) of the Pennine Way between the Anglo-Scottish border and Kirk Yetholm lie within Scotland, but are designated as one of the National Trails of England.
The route of each of the Great Trails is marked with coloured diamonds on Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) and Landranger (1:50000) maps; the SGT logo of a thistle within a hexagon is also used to highlight the routes at the 1:25000 scale.
The trails grew out of the Long Distance Routes (LDRs), which were proposed and financially supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, and administered and maintained by the local authorities. The Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 provided the legal basis for the Long Distance Routes, but the first one was not opened officially until 1980. By 2010 there were four LDRs:
- West Highland Way, opened in 1980
- Speyside Way, opened in 1981
- Southern Upland Way, opened in 1984
- Great Glen Way, opened in 2002
Following the passage of the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2003, the public has a right to responsible access to most land in Scotland, in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Access rights for new routes therefore largely no longer required to be negotiated and many named walks have been developed by local authorities, tourist organisations and guidebook authors. In 2010 SNH decided not formally designate any further LDRs, but would instead encourage more locally-based proposals for new routes for long-distance footpaths. Within this approach it was recognised that there was a need for a strong "brand identity" to aid marketing of Scotland’s longer distance routes internationally. Minimum standards would be applied in the selection of these branded routes, which would take account of factors such as:
- attractiveness of scenery
- trail surfaces
- facilities and services
- signage and waymarking
- route definition and continuity
- access by public and private transport
- route management
"Scotland's Great Trails" was chosen as the brand identity, and as of 2018 there were 29 officially recognised Great Trails.
As of April 2018.
- "Scotland's Great Trails: the official guide". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
- "FAQs". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- "Great Glen Canoe Trail". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- "Arran Coastal Way recognised as one of 'Scotland's Great Trails'". Arran Coastal Way. 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
- "About Scotland's Great Trails". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
- "Legend: 1: 25000 scale" (PDF). Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
- "Legend: 1: 50000 scale" (PDF). Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
- SNH Commissioned Report 380. p. 5.
- SNH Commissioned Report 380. p. 6.
- SNH Commissioned Report 380. p.p. 87-97.
- "The Formartine and Buchan Way". www.walkhighlands.co.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- "The John Muir Way". walkhighlands.co.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- "Route information and maps". Kintyre Way.
- "Scotland's Great Trails - The West Highland Way". www.walkhighlands.co.uk.
- West Island Way
- "SNH Commissioned Report 380: Developing the network of longer distance routes" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 2010. Retrieved 2018-08-08.