Latest news stories from ScotWays.

A new way to access the old ways – Heritage Paths Website is Launched!

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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, , 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 today!

Householder Permitted Development Rights Consultation – ScotWays Response

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ScotWays recently submitted comments on Scottish Government plans to relax the planning controls on certain developments in relation to existing residential properties, thus reducing the need for planning applications.

As part of their proposals for modernisation of the planning system, the Scottish Government intend to remove a number of minor householder planning applications from the planning system. It is hoped this will allow individuals more freedom to develop their property and planning authorities to allocate resources to more significant developments, while retaining an appropriate level of planning control.

Our main concerns with the proposed changes to permitted development rights are about possible encroachment of development over public rights of way or core paths, and possible limitations on how the public can exercise statutory rights of access to land. We are aware that this can already be a problem under the existing permitted development rights. This can occur both within settlements and in rural settings.

John Mackay, ScotWays Director said, “We think that this issue is best addressed by an addition to the general conditions, to the effect that permitted development rights do not apply where the development encroaches on or otherwise impedes passage along a public right of way or core path, or impedes the exercise by the public of access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.”

If you would like to read more about the Householder Permitted Development Rights Consultation Paper, visit

Keep up to date with our Spring Update!

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We recently sent out our Spring Update. We think it’s a great way to let all our valued members know what we’ve been up to, and give them the opportunity to get involved in our work.

If you are a ScotWays member and have not yet received your copy of the Spring Update, please contact the office so we can check we have your details correct.

If you are not currently a member but would like to receive our Spring Update and all the other benefits of ScotWays membership, click on the Membership tab above to find out more.

Some of our oldest signs to be re-installed

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Working on the Heritage Paths Project and researching the many old routes around Scotland has helped us to understand and value Scotland's historic paths. A less anticipated outcome of the project has been a reappraisal of ScotWays' own involvement in historic paths and the sad realisation that many of our original signs, probably the oldest of their type in the world, have gone missing. This prompted us to give a rallying call for anyone who notices a cast iron ScotWays sign to let us know about them and their condition but it has also encouraged us to look into re-installing some of the original signs that we are in possession of.

With the invaluable help of Friends of the Pentlands we are now in a position to reinstall some of the original Victorian signs in the Pentland Hills region. Friends of the Pentlands refurbished four of our original signs and are now looking for suitable sites for them. If this proves successful and walkers appreciate the signs we may attempt to recover other signs and reinstall them as well.

Sign Spotters Still Wanted

Thank you to all of you who have already responded to our sign spotters appeal. We are still interested in reports of our old cast iron signs, so if you spot one when you are out and about, do let us know. Ideally we would like you to provide a grid ref, a note of the condition of both the sign itself and its pole and, if possible, a photograph. Please send you reports to us by email or post.

Welcome to the new and improved ScotWays website!

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This new site is the result of several months of collaborative work between our office staff and our Webmaster. We hope you agree that it is even better than our previous site. In particular there are two important new features.

Firstly, there is now a section dedicated to our regular court case updates, which were previously included in the news section. We are well known for our court case updates and they have always been one of the most popular parts features of the website. Now it should be easier to access these reports and follow the progress of recent outdoor access disputes. Just click on the Court Cases tab above. 

The second innovation is our virtual shop, which allows you to pay your membership subscription, purchase books and even make donations on line. Your payments will be processed securely by our partner PayPal. Try it out today just click on the Shop tab above!

Sign Spotters Wanted

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ScotWays is seeking help in checking the condition of our cast iron signs.

ScotWays is appealing for information about the condition of our historic cast iron signs.

Over the years ScotWays has installed thousands of recreational signposts throughout Scotland. Many signposts date back to the 1880s and are thought to be the first signposts in the world designed purely for recreational users. Their well-known green and white style has been adopted as a standard for recreational signposts throughout the UK and elsewhere. Up until the 1950s these signs were constructed of cast iron, and these have proved to be much more durable than modern signs, though many of them now need repair. We are recording the current locations and condition of these signs and will take action to refurbish and protect them. We hope to place them on the Sites and Monuments Record to give recognition to their historical significance.

If you see any of our older signs please get in touch with us, either by email, or post to 24 Annandale Street, Edinburgh EH4 3UA. Please let us know where you saw the sign (grid ref if pos) and the condition of both the sign and the pole. Photographs would be very helpful - preferably electronic.