‘What is a path?’

If I asked a room full of people ‘What is a path?’. I’m fairly certain I would get quite a few different descriptions. And that wouldn’t surprise me. Because everyone has had different experience of walking a path. These range from a walk in Dock Park or the Crichton grounds to a Spring climb up Criffel with its reconstructed bottom end and its peaty top section. I think that experience could be replicated in every town in Dumfries and Galloway.

My dictionary says its an Old English word with two related meanings:

  1. a road or way, especially a narrow, trodden track
  2. a surfaced walk, as through a garden.

So, the descriptions above are both right.

Garlies Castle: Core Path 428

Garlies Castle: Core path 428

When I now begin to introduce the Access Legislation and its instructions it’s going to get more complicated:

The legislation [Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003] required local authorities to implement the development of a Core PATH Plan. There is a further guidance.

Core path networks are not to be restricted only to constructed or surfaced paths but are intended to include a full range of path types. The network is therefore likely to encompass a full range of path surfaces including:

  • natural grass and beaten earth paths through fields, woods, along riverbanks, etc (I could say ‘up hills’ here)
  • surfaced paths and tracks, towpaths etc
  • farm and forestry tracks
  • waterways with launching points and quiet minor roads and pavements for certain stretches, if required

I believe pedestrianised Buchannan Street, Glasgow’s busiest shopping street, is a core path!

Near Challochglass: Core Path No 345

Near Challochglass: Core Path No 345

These ‘paths’ are to allow walkers, cyclists, horse riders and any other form of non-motorised transport the right of responsible access. It is complicated now.

Dumfries and Galloway Access Forum’s position is that, now that the plan is now on the ground and working (imperfectly, I know, but with such an extensive path network it takes a lot of resources to get right) the policy is to upgrade those paths as their use increases.

Its been a technical newsletter but it is important to have a plan and to get it right. For example, an upgrade of the top section of Criffel has long been an aspiration and which the Access Team at the ‘Council’ have been working for several years is now coming to fruition. The funding is almost in place and planning for the work has started.

Mull of Galloway: Core Path No 399

Mull Of Galloway: Core Path No 399

Remember the Access Forum and the Outdoor Access Trust are composed almost wholly of volunteers. We would be happy to have any help available so if you are interested in helping to contribute to make Dumfries and Galloway’s PATHS the best in Scotland, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

The pictures I’ve included show the variety of paths in D&G. If you have any better ones, I’d be pleased to receive them and arrange to have them posted on Dumfries and Galloway Outdoor Access Trust’s Facebook Page. Or you comment directly.

On the Cateran Trail: Glenshee

On the Cateran Trail: Glenshee