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Paths for the Park

1st March 2007

Routes within the Cairngorms National Park could become more accessible and enjoyable following moves to have an extended Core Paths system for the area.

One of the key aims of the Cairngorms National Park Plan is to provide high quality opportunities for outdoor access. That took a further step towards realisation on Friday (February 23rd) after CNPA board members approved a more inclusive version of the Interim Draft Core Paths Plan.

An Interim Draft Plan, which will detail all the paths, will now be drawn up and is due to go out for an informal public consultation within the Park between April and June. Following that a Draft Plan will be submitted to Scottish Ministers and a formal public consultation will take place on the proposal.

Core paths are a statutory obligation for all National Parks and local authorities in Scotland to identify a network of important paths which will give the public reasonable access throughout that area. The core paths will be the main routes which will help link into the wider network of routes that exist in the countryside.

It is hoped they will form paths around Scotland that are accessible and attractive for everyone to use, including walkers, cyclists, horse riders and even canoeists.

The board considered two options for the proposed Cairngorms National Park core paths. The first option offered a more basic network. Option two consisted of a more extensive network with the inclusion of the River Spey as a proposed core path.

Aside from taking the aims of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which covers core paths, into consideration CNPA board members also have to consider how they affect and meet the CNPA’s four aims and the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the long-term vision (25 years) of the Park.

It was felt option two offered more in meeting all these aims.

The proposal includes existing promoted and waymarked paths close to settlement identified through the public engagement process.

It also meets the wishes of Cairngorms National Park residents and visitors, who, during community engagement exercises, showed preference for an extended Core Paths Plan which included the River Spey.

The paths will be managed to ensure they are both accessible and safe for the public to use.

Bob Grant, Senior Outdoor Access Officer at the CNPA, said: “One of the key priorities of the Cairngorms National Park Plan is to improve the Park’s outdoor access opportunities. The Core Paths Plan will be key in helping to achieve this. The more extensive option will open up more of the Park to the public and make it more accessible to all.”

David Green, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said: “The CNPA wants to promote active and healthy lifestyles as well as encouraging people to explore the Cairngorms. This Draft Core Paths Plan will enable that by having a more extensive core paths system, which will also help to link up more of the Park and enhance the visitor experience.

“It is vital that the paths in the Cairngorms National Park are accessible and meet the needs of all the public. This will help to deliver that by highlighting the Park’s most important paths and ensuring they are well managed and used over the years. They will also help against climate change by encouraging people to reduce their car dependency.”

The board also approved the aim of the Cairngorms National Park Core Paths Plan that: “The Core Paths Plan will identify a network of paths. This network will be sufficient to meet the needs of residents and visitors by providing a range of high quality outdoor access opportunities in the National Park and which help people to enjoy and understand the Park’s special qualities.

“Core paths will be clearly promoted and provide for a wide range of activities and users, connecting them to local services, public transport links and to a wider network of paths in the Park. The Plan will assist the National Park Authority in the effective overall management of the network.”

The Interim Draft Plan will now be printed and available from April. Public consultations are due to take place in spring. A revised Draft Core Paths Plan will go to the Board at the end of 2007 and submitted to the Scottish Executive by February 2008, before a final consultation in spring 2008. Following that the Plan can be adopted.