Latest news stories from ScotWays.

A crowd summit and the remains of a large fire

Onslaught or Opportunity?

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Finding solutions for our post-lockdown countryside

16 April 2021, 12.30 – 2pm, Facebook Live.

In response to the unprecedented pressures on Scotland's countryside last summer and the similar situation anticipated this year, ScotWays is hosting an online election hustings on 16 April to seek possible solutions. Candidates from the five main parties will be asked to discuss their thoughts and solutions to the immediate and long-term problems, and the associated challenges to Scotland's world-famous access rights.

Scotland is blessed with a rich natural environment of breath-taking beauty that we must nurture for the benefit of all. But with the right of access, long championed by organisations such as ScotWays, come responsibilities too.

Last summer, with the release of long pent-up demand, we saw the unprecedented, chaotic and hugely disruptive pressure of visitors seeking to enjoy Scotland’s countryside. Sadly, that pressure was made more acute by the damaging behaviour of a minority, ranging from simple ignorance of responsible access to blatant criminality.

As the country prepares once again to emerge from lockdown and restrictions are set to be eased on where we can travel for leisure and pleasure within Scotland, there is an urgent need to be better prepared for the months ahead. Indeed, if international travel remains restricted, many more people on these islands are likely to want to holiday here in Scotland.

These immediate challenges are not temporary. We need to face the fact that parts of Scotland don’t have the infrastructure to cope with the demands we put upon them in normal times. Tourism brings huge economic benefits to Scotland, so longer-term solutions need to be found. But those solutions should not endanger our hard-won access rights.

In the search for answers, ScotWays, on behalf of the Scottish Outdoor Recreation Alliance (SORA), is hosting a major Holyrood Election Hustings at lunchtime on 16 April which will be broadcast live. We will pose some provocative questions to the panel of politicians and try to forge a path ahead.

Our independent chair, ensuring that all voices get a hearing, will be the award-winning journalist and author, James Naughtie, special correspondent for BBC News.

The Hustings will be broadcast live on our Facebook via Facebook Live.  You don’t need an account to watch, but you will need one if you wish to leave a comment.  


Launch of the SORA Manifesto 2021

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Commenting on the launch of the Scottish Outdoor Recreation Alliance (SORA) Manifesto issued today, Chief Operating Officer, Richard Barron said: “Our country is, we hope, on the cusp of being released from the grip of lockdown. 

“The great outdoors has played an important part in the health and well-being and sheer enjoyment for so many across Scotland. In the weeks, months and years to come, we all want to be able to experience these simple pleasures again. 

“Everyone has the right to access our countryside and the great outdoors. ScotWays is committed to upholding Scotland's excellent public access rights. But these rights only apply if people behave responsibly. Last summer, with the release of long-pent-up-demand, we saw unprecedented, chaotic and hugely disruptive pressure of visitors seeking to enjoy Scotland’s countryside.  Sadly, that pressure was made more acute by the damaging behaviour of a minority, ranging from simple ignorance of responsible access to blatant criminality. 

There is a need for education, but also for information and infrastructure to help people make the right choices.

“The SORA manifesto is packed with ideas about how to improve the experience of visitors to Scotland's countryside. 

“We hope that our politicians are listening.”

The manifesto was developed by Ramblers Scotland, British Horse Society, Cycling UK Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland, ScotWays and Scottish Canoe Association. It is also supported by The Outward Bound Trust, Scottish Adventure Activities Forum, Scottish Countryside Rangers Association, Scottish Wild Land Group, HorseScotland and Scottish Orienteering.

Small Grants Scheme - new deadline

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The next deadline for our small grants scheme is 31st May.

The ScotWays small grants scheme aims to help organisations fund a project up to 50% of the total budget for the project.

The scheme will award grants of between £500 and £1,500. It is hoped that this might enable organisations to achieve the completion of a community-based/access-related project which might not otherwise be able to proceed.

Applicant organisations should be members of ScotWays.

For further details please visit our downloads page.

Signposts, ScotWays and Landward

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Prompted by a time lapse video of our Chief Operating Officer replacing a signpost on Rannoch Moor, the BBC Landward team met up with Richard at Kinlochleven to talk ScotWays history, the importance of our signs and to help replace one.  First broadcast on 10 December 2020, you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer until November 2021.

New Phones!

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Ever since the Pandemic forced us to leave the office, we have not been able to answer the phone in person.  As there is no sign of an imminent return to the office we have taken the decision to change from a traditional landline to an internet-powered phone system.  This will enable any of the staff to answer the office phone from anywhere in the world!

The change over starts on Thursday 26 November 2020 and until it is complete we will NOT be able to take any phone calls or access any messages that you may leave for us.

If you do call, the number may ring out and not be answered, you may get a number not known message, you may get sent to a voicemail service we cannot access

We will update this news item to let you know when we are operational again, but until then please use another method to contact us preferably This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

*UPDATE Mon 18 January 2021* You can now phone us!  Our new system is operational so you should be able to call us and speak to someone. We still have much to learn so our apologies if we lose you when transferring a call or if you still ned up getting the answer phone the first time around.

Cattle and public access rights

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There have been a number of incidents recently where walkers in the Pentland Hills have been injured by cattle. The public right of responsible access under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 allows access to fields where there is livestock, but some animals, particularly those with young, can react aggressively towards people. The Health & Safety Executive points out that the most common factors in incidents reported to them are cows with calves and walkers with dogs. Land managers should make every effort not to keep potentially aggressive animals in fields where members of the public regularly take access, and access takers should take heed of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code