Catalogue of Rights of Way

Catalogue of Rights of Way

CROW is the national Catalogue of Rights of Way. Created by ScotWays in the early 1990s with the help of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and local authorities, it amalgamates  information  about rights of way from a range of sources. Mapped at 1:50,000 scale, it’s a digital record comprising maps of the routes along with an information sheet about each one. CROW does not include all rights of way – many of these are known only to local people and come to ScotWays’ notice only when a problem arises.

CROW is continually updated to take account of new information as it comes to ScotWays’ attention.

CROW also holds information about Heritage Paths, the routes recorded in our book Scottish Hill Tracks, and information on all our signposts and other signposted routes.

Creating CROW

Unlike south of the Border, there is no legal requirement for a definitive map of rights of way in Scotland as the relevant provisions of the National Park and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 don’t apply here. In the 1960s ScotWays used a set of 1” OS maps to record all the rights of way they knew about. In due course this was replaced by a 1:50,000 scale version. During the 1970s ScotWays pressed the infant Countryside Commission for Scotland to get local authorities to make up maps of rights of way and in the early 1990s they went a stage further, starting a project to create the first national digital record of rights of way in Scotland.

After six years of touring all the local authority offices in Scotland, CROW, the Catalogue of Rights of Way was created. Six years later all those routes had been surveyed by a team of volunteers.

CROW consisted of a series of maps showing the lines of the rights of way but, unlike the earlier maps, each route was numbered and a route information sheet produced, all of which was held on computer. The technology of the times meant that the digital maps were stored completely separately from the written route information. 1:50,000 scale was chosen as that was the only affordable digital mapping with full coverage of Scotland. It was black and white!

Since then CROW has gone through a number of changes. The first big one was when ScotWays got its own GIS system. Why? In the beginning SNH looked after all the digital maps and ScotWays looked after the route information sheets that had been created for each route. With the arrival of the Geographic Information System (GIS) ScotWays started looking after the whole document, although the two parts, maps and route information sheet, remained stored in different systems.

This changed in 2019 with the start of the Atlas project. Now the maps and route information sheets have been brought together, along with our signposting and enquiry management systems. Eventually parts of this will be accessible to all from here on our website.