Danny Carden, Ramblers Scotland communications & engagement officer
From unhelpful signs and overgrown paths to broken bridges and aggressive dogs, many walkers will recognise the occasional frustration of being stopped in your tracks while enjoying the Scottish countryside.
In fact, SNHs People and Nature Survey in 2014 found that 24% of people accessing the Scottish outdoors encounter a problem during their visit. These issues will make it less likely that people will want to go walking again, meaning they could miss out on all the wonderful health and social benefits that walking brings.
There are also
at least as many wonderful examples of landowners, charities and access authorities
going the extra mile to improve opportunities for people to enjoy Scotland on
foot. For example, SNHs excellent signage at Craigellachie nature reserve
near Aviemore, National Trust for Scotlands welcoming trails at Mar Lodge,
and the scenic benches and sensitive waymarking at Ballaters Craigendarroch
Until recently, there hasnt been a single method for people to share their experiences while out and about in Scotland. Thats why Ramblers Scotland launched Pathwatch a pioneering digital project to record issues affecting walkers and celebrate the best of the Scottish outdoors.
Since October weve been urging walkers and others to use the free Pathwatch app to share positive experiences and report any problems they encounter while out and about in Scotland. That can mean logging missing signs and blocked trails or exciting views and wildlife all of which can be marked on to digital Ordnance Survey maps via the app. Weve received an interesting range of reports so far, and are using peoples reports to help us promote and protect the countrys unique landscape and access including sharing several reports with the relevant bodies.
It is the first time the app has been available north of the border. At Easter, we take stock of all the results and feedback so far, before deciding the next steps for this technology in Scotland. But dont worry if youve missed that date, we still want to receive your Pathwatch reports throughout the coming months and years. As our director Brendan Paddy says: We know that Scotland has some of the best access legislation in the world, but we dont yet have a full picture of the challenges facing walkers on the ground.
Even though almost a quarter of people come across a problem while in the outdoors, previously we only received about a 100 reports of issues to Ramblers Scotlands Scottish each year. We believe the vast majority of issues go unreported. Pathwatch makes it easy for you to let us know instantly about anything that stops you in your tracks. Its equally exciting to have the opportunity to use Pathwatch to celebrate the great experiences we all have while exploring Scotland on foot.
Id encourage NEMT supporters to download the app today and let us know your experiences. Tell us what you find the good and the bad so together we can paint a more accurate picture of the issues affecting Scottish walkers.
The Pathwatch project has previously run successfully in England and Wales. Encouragingly, almost half of all features reported south of the border have been positive, showing the potential for the technology to showcase the best of the Scottish outdoors. We see it as a great opportunity to work more closely with walkers, landowners and access authorities to improve Scotlands outdoors for all.
The Pathwatch app is available for download at ramblers.org.uk/scotland, where a desktop version is also available. If youre using the app, dont forget to hit the red Sync button on the app so we receive the details you log.
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