Thirty new long distance routes are to be added to Scotland’s network of trails, cycleways and canal towpaths, as part of a national project to give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and travel sustainably.
The National Walking and Cycling project plan was launched on 19th March by Cabinet Secretary for Planning Alex Neil near the Falkirk Wheel. It will extend the network by 500 miles over the next five years, joining up and improving existing routes.
Scottish Natural Heritage, Sustrans and Scottish Canals want Scotland to develop a strategic path network on a par with the best in Europe, making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to get to and enjoy. The paths will offer something for everyone, from walkers, cyclists and horse riders to people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The project is one of a number of key developments highlighted in the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework.
Mr Neil stepped out on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal to see some of the benefits for himself and meet the project partners and representatives from Falkirk Council. The canal towpath is part of the new John Muir Way, a national cycle route and links to a network of local paths round Falkirk.
John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, said:
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Canals to ensure the successful delivery of a National Long Distance Cycling and Walking Network, as detailed in National Planning Framework 3. Sustrans wants to see as many people as possible choosing to walk and cycle more on a daily basis. In order to achieve this aim we need to continue to develop high quality facilities for people to use.
“2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the National Cycle Network in the UK; Sustrans’ flagship project. In 2013, there were an estimated 104 million trips on the National Cycle Network in Scotland and the indicative value of leisure cycling and cycle tourism was £298 million.
“It is fantastic to think that the Network will be extended even further as part of this National Long Distance Walking and Cycling Network and more people than ever before will have the opportunity to use it.”