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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, Scottish Natural Heritage 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. To find out more, email us at recreationandaccess@nature.scot.

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. We recently surveyed people about the importance of upland paths, which 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.

The findings will inform the work of:

  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Mountaineering Scotland
  • John Muir Trust
  • National Trust for Scotland
  • Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland