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Access for All

6th March 2007

More people will be able to enjoy the Cairngorms National Park now that the first ever Park-wide Outdoor Access Strategy has been approved.

One of the Priorities for Actions within the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the long-term vision (25 years) of the Park, is to provide high quality opportunities for outdoor access.

The key mechanism to help deliver that was put in place last week, Friday March 2, after the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board agreed on the first-ever Outdoor Access strategy for the Cairngorms National Park.

The strategy will provide a more consistent and coordinated approach to the delivery and management of outdoor access throughout the Park and will mean a wider range of people will be able to enjoy the Park. Its policies and priorities will provide better provision, variety and quality of outdoor access. It will also allow the staff and land managers from the different organisations and services operating in the Park to deal with issues as they arise and to plan ahead.

It also meets a number of Scottish Executive’s priorities including the minimising of carbon emissions, health promotion, social inclusion, conservation of biodiversity and sustainable tourism.

After the Cairngorms National Park was established in 2003, the management and responsibility of outdoor access transferred from Aberdeenshire, Highland, Moray and Angus councils to the CNPA.

The CNPA board agreed the need for a Park-wide outdoor access strategy in 2004.

Since then CNPA officers have been working in consultation with a number of key partners, including the Cairngorms Local Outdoor Access Forum, local authorities, estates, public agencies and disability groups, on establishing the strategy.

The strategy has identified five key actions which will not only deliver the Outdoor Access Strategy, but also the Cairngorms National Park Plan. They are:

  • Improving path provision and quality
  • Promoting responsible outdoor access and management
  • Promoting visitor information about outdoor access
  • Promoting sustainable transport for enjoyment of the National Park and
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles

There are a number of priorities under the five actions, including improving path quality and provision; provision of all abilities and multi-use paths and cycling, horse riding and waterborne routes; promotion of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code; managing outdoor access at sensitive sites and popular countryside sites; organised outdoor access events and improved public transport links.

Bob Grant, the CNPA’s Senior Outdoor Access Officer, said: “There was a clear need for better planning and design of Outdoor Access in the Cairngorms National Park. Whilst there is a lot of good work going on in individual areas, there is no Park-wide approach.

“The Strategy provides a clear and logical approach on how Outdoor Access should be managed and delivered around the Park. It will improve access issues for both residents and visitors and make the Cairngorms National Park a more enjoyable experience for all.”

David Green, the CNPA’s Convener, said: “The Cairngorms National Park Plan sets out as one of its priorities the need for high quality opportunities for outdoor access for all.

“What is exciting about the strategy is it will not only deliver that priority, but will help achieve many of our other aims. By providing improved outdoor access, there will be less need for people to use their cars and instead get around the Park on foot or by bike. It is clear that in order to be a Park for All there needs to be a comprehensive and consistent Park-wide strategy.”

The Outdoor Access Strategy, which will be available from April, will be delivered alongside the Cairngorms National Park Plan by a number of organisations and agencies working in the Park. Further proposals are to go the CNPA board in April on the formation of a Trust, which will look at how some of the actions within the Outdoor Access Strategy should be delivered.