A new window opened on Scotland’s history today. It will guide walkers and other access takers to nearly 2000km of historic paths around the country. Launched at the Bishop’s Bridge, the old packhorse bridge in Ceres, the Heritage Paths Project website is an online resource giving easy access to a wealth of information on hundreds of miles of historic paths across Scotland.
The new website, www.heritagepaths.co.uk , run by the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society (ScotWays) was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The Heritage Paths Project brings together carefully researched images, maps and information relating to the traditional routes and long distance paths used down the generations for journeys such as trade, pilgrimage, travel and burial customs.
Users now have the tools to find out about old paths all over Scotland and travel them. The website has a range of paths from those that are very accessible to those that are more challenging, but all give a new insight into the purpose and methods of travel before the car.
This online database should encourage people to get outdoors by putting these paths in their historic context and encouraging people to explore them for themselves.
Chairman of ScotWays George Menzies, said:
“ScotWays has been protecting and promoting paths for over 150 years and we are delighted to be able to pass on our knowledge of the paths’ histories in such an accessible way.”
The website also promotes access to the countryside to a wide range of users as well as walkers, such as bike riders, horse riders and motorised wheelchair users. SNH Chief Executive Ian Jardine said:
“Using Scotland’s path networks offers physical, emotional and cultural benefits to people of all ages and abilities. SNH is delighted to support the Heritage Paths online resource. It delivers information that will interest people in their surroundings and their history, and will hopefully encourage more people to go out and explore the natural heritage around them.”
Attending the launch were pupils from Ceres Primary who walked back in time along the famous local path The Waterless Road, guided by professional school guides Forth Pilgrim who explained its fascinating history.
Heritage Paths Project Officer, Neil Ramsay demonstrated the depth of information available on the website database. He said:
“The website includes old paths and roads that were used for a wide variety of purposes. These include coffin roads used to take the dead to be buried in consecrated ground, Roman Roads built nearly 2000 years ago and the drove roads that saw hundreds of thousands of cattle walking from all parts of Scotland to descend on the big cattle Trysts at Crieff and Falkirk.”
A unique aspect to the website is that it combines the latest Google Maps technology with historic Bartholomew maps showing the paths in an easily accessible format. This combined feature was generously designed and created by the National Library of Scotland and shows detailed historic mapping with the modern road network overlaid.
The website already contains many historic paths, but Neil Ramsay is keen to keep adding to the project. He said:
“Ideally the resource should continue to grow and expand as people use it and contribute their own local knowledge and information about the old paths in their areas. There are also aspects of paths’ history that are undocumented and we’d like users to see the website as a dynamic resource that can be added to.”
Scotland Manager of HLF, Colin McLean, said
“The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to have been able help fund this exciting new resource. Not only will people be encouraged to enjoy Scotland’s marvellous outdoor landscape but will be able to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors who shaped the history of Scotland.”
So why not see for yourself? Visit www.heritagepaths.co.uk today!