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Draft National Park Plan outlines aims for outdoor access

11th April 2006

Providing High Quality Opportunities for Outdoor Access is a key priority in the developing National Park Plan for the Cairngorms and with the launch of the consultation on the Draft Plan, now is the opportunity for everyone to make their viewpoint known.

Over the years there have been a number of excellent initiatives to provide better quality paths and facilities for outdoor access in different parts of the Cairngorms.  The Park’s designation now brings an opportunity to integrate management of these schemes to meet the excellent standard demanded of such a unique place.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) Head of Visitor Services and Recreation, Murray Ferguson said: “The Cairngorms area is already famous for the number and variety of opportunities to get out and about.  We propose to improve paths, signs and so on to encourage people living in the Park or visiting the area to have even more fun.  There should be something in this for everyone regardless of age, ability or interest.

“Anyone with an interest in getting out and about in the Park should take a close look at this section in the Draft Park Plan and let us know, during the consultation period, what they think.”

The relatively new right of responsible access under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives Scotland some of the best access legislation in the world.  All those interested in access, including local people and land managers need to work together to develop an effective understanding of responsible access and management in the context of the National Park.  The Local Outdoor Access Forum is already in place and working well to make this happen.

Debbie Greene from Scottish Natural Heritage, the organisation responsible for promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code commented: “The Park Authority has put a lot of effort into consulting us and other stakeholders as they prepared this Draft Plan.  We are convinced that National Parks should be places where residents and visitors have top quality recreational experiences, so we are looking forward to working with the Park Authority and other partners to develop and deliver this key priority for action.

“The Cairngorms National Park attracts huge numbers of visitors from overseas and south of the border who are often unaware of, or unclear about, Scotland’s right of responsible access and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.  We therefore need to put extra effort into promoting and explaining the law and the Code in ways that these visitors can easily find and understand.”

The Draft National Park Plan sets out the long term vision – 25 years – for the Park as a whole as well  as the key priorities for the first five years of the Plan, from 2007 to 2012.

Some of the key aims proposed for the first five years with regards to the priority Providing High Quality Opportunities for Outdoor Access are:

  • Improved provision of walking and cycling routes to serve schools and work places where appropriate.
  • Extensions to strategic routes such as the Speyside Way, which would also become suitable for use by walkers, riders and cyclists.
  • Better information about path networks around each community in the Park.
  • Current and latent demand for public transport routes within and to/from the Park will be assessed and there will be itineraries and promotional initiatives linking visitor sites and public transport.
  • Annual workshop for land managers on responsible use in relation to outdoor access.

The consultation period for the National Park Plan is from April to the end of June 2006.  Following the consultation, a report summarising the responses will be prepared and the final Park Plan will be developed, with partners for submission, to Ministers at the end of 2006.  This is the first National Park Plan for the Cairngorms and although the Plan looks ahead to 2030, a new series of priorities will be published every five years, addressing other priorities for action.

More information on the Draft National Park Plan can be found on the National Park Plan homepage.

To get involved in the National Park Plan consultation please contact the CNPA at: National Park Plan Consultation, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, PH26 3HG.  Tel: 01479 873535 fax: 01479 873527  email: [email protected]