Managing upland paths

Upland path repair and maintenance safeguards and enhances Scotland’s landscapes. Path management also helps to protect important habitats.

Scotland’s upland paths are used and enjoyed by millions of walkers, climbers and mountain bikers every year. Together, path users contribute more than £110 million annually to our rural economy.

To help provide and maintain quality paths, NatureScot has published two upland path manuals on behalf of the Upland Path Advisory Group (UPAG).

For technical guidance on path repair and maintenance, including light touch techniques, see Upland Pathwork: Construction Standards for Scotland. This also discusses the implications of climate change on path construction and maintenance.

Upland Path Management: Standards for delivering path projects in Scotland's mountains covers all aspects of a path project, from the proposal to contract management and aftercare.

UPAG is an information sharing network for path contractors and managers, hill user groups and others involved in constructing, restoring and managing upland paths. 

Caring for our paths

Very little funding is available for upland path repair and there’s no funding for path maintenance. Yet both are crucial to protect landscapes and fragile habitats, and well-maintained paths help to create great days out on our hills.

Various organisations involved in upland path management are working together to develop a more strategic approach to upland path management. The Scottish Upland Path Audit is one of the first steps towards this. The study identified 410 kilometres of upland path in need of repair and provides estimates for the long term maintenance required. This will not only protect the investment, but safeguard the estimated £110 million per year indirectly generated by upland paths, benefitting local communities.

Our survey about the importance of upland paths, demonstrated a huge amount of support (94%) for continued investment, whilst 91% of respondents agreed that well looked after paths can improve the visitor experience.

Find out more

Scottish Upland Path Audit Report and Appendices

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