The Cairngorms National Park Authority has been directed to adopt a plan that lays the foundation for an effective network of paths in the Cairngorms National Park for years to come. The Core Paths Plan that has been produced by the Cairngorms National Park Authority got the go ahead from the Scottish Government following extensive consultation with the public, businesses, land managers and other organisations.
In total 1,197 people were involved in the three consultative phases. It is a blueprint for encouraging more people into the outdoors and helping land managers to manage access across land and water.
The Plan highlights an overall path network of new and existing tracks, roads, pavements and water courses in the Park totalling around 932km (579 miles) - that's further than the main road equivalent of Aviemore to London. The Plan will provide the basis for a programme of improvements that will deliver a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits.
In a first for Scotland, the Cairngorms Core Paths Plan has designated the surface of the River Spey within the National Park as a core path. This is likely to result in a better managed river catering more effectively for the needs of the diverse range of users who enjoy it.
David Green, convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority said "Now that the Core Paths Plan has been approved, the development of a more integrated network of paths for a wider range of people and abilities to enjoy the special qualities of the Cairngorms National Park can be taken forward.
"Once completed the work will allow users to move around and enjoy the Park more easily while minimising conflict with farmers, foresters and estates who manage the land. The Park Authority already supports the work of the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust and I look forward to more projects coming forward like the new school path in Strathdon and the new bridge over the River Gynack in Kingussie.
"I would also like to thank members of the Cairngorms Local Outdoor Access Forum who advised on the consultation process over a sustained period. With their input, the Park Authority went about developing the Cairngorms Core Paths Plan in a very thorough, transparent and consultative way, resulting in just one alteration being directed by the Minister following extensive consultations and a public inquiry."
The CNPA was therefore directed to adopt the Core Paths Plan as submitted subject to the deletion of a path between Nethy Bridge and Braes of Abernethy junction.
The core paths network caters for all types of users from walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, to people with disabilities and canoeists. However, not all individual paths will need to be designed or managed for every type of user. The paths included will allow people to move more easily in, around and between communities as part of their daily lives. Increased recreational use will also be encouraged and the network includes many existing paths as well as some proposals for new ones. Core paths will be easy to follow, well signposted, appropriately maintained and as far as possible free from barriers or obstructions. Paths can range from a simple trail through the grass to a more formal path with a tarmac surface.
The CNPA can now progress with a wide range of work including the production of information from leaflets to map-boards, to help promote the network to as wide an audience as possible.