Scotland has three new long-distance leisure routes, bringing its tally of trails to 23.
The Great Glen Canoe Trail will allow paddlers to travel between Fort William and Inverness, getting a new perspective on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness.
Two more conventional routes aimed at walkers, cyclists and horseriders are the Rob Roy Way and the Berwickshire Coastal Path.
Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, has added the three to its network of long-distance routes, which are now dubbed Scotland’s Great Trails.
The network now comprises more than 2,400km (1,500 miles) of long-distance trails through the nation’s countryside.
The Rob Roy Way, which runs between Drymen and Pitlochry, follows tracks and paths used by the notorious outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The most southerly of the three, the Berwickshire Coastal Path, is along one of the spectacular coastline linking Cockburnspath to Berwick-on-Tweed. It takes in dramatic cliff top scenery complete with arches, stacks and crumbling castles.
The three new routes join the popular West Highland Way, Southern Upland Way and Great Glen Way as well as the St Cuthbert’s Way which crosses the border into England.
Pete Rawcliffe, people and places manager at Scottish Natural Heritage said: “In Scotland we’re very lucky to have so many long distance trails running through some of our finest scenery, so it’s great to add another three routes to Scotland’s best.
“The trails offer people the chance to go out and enjoy the countryside close to where they live as well as exploring further afield. And the beauty of these trails is that you can just dip in for short trips as well as going the whole distance.”
Riddell Graham, director of partnerships at VisitScotland, said: “VisitScotland is delighted to be working closely with Scottish Natural Heritage and other interested countryside partners in the development and promotion of Scotland’s Great Trails.
“As we prepare to celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013, as part of our Winning Years programme, the addition of three new routes will add greatly to the visitor appeal of the extensive paths network already in place and provide great opportunities for tourism businesses to benefit from the natural experience on their doorstep.”
Information on all of Scotland’s Great Trails can be seen on a dedicated website.
The full list is: Annandale Way; Ayrshire Coastal Path; Berwickshire Coastal Path; Borders Abbeys Way; Cateran Trail; Clyde Walkway; Dava Way; Fife Coastal Path; Formartine & Buchan Way; Forth-Clyde an Union Canal Towpath; Great Glen Canoe Trail; Great Glen Way; John Muir Way; Kintyre Way; Moray Coastal Trail; River Ayr Way; Rob Roy Way; Speyside Way; Southern Upland Way; St Cuthbert’s Way; Three Lochs Way; West Highland Way and West Island Way.
SNH also has a map showing their locations.
The 23 routes promoted as Scotland’s Great Trails have to meet the following criteria: a continuous, clearly identifiable and waymarked route between defined start and end points.
They must be largely off, at least 40km (25 miles) and have potential for multi-day journeys by foot, bike or horse, or by canoe.
The routes must offer at least a basic range of visitor services, with information on the route, facilities and services available for users in appropriate format and have opportunities to appreciate the natural, cultural and historic interest of the area through which they pass, with user experience as a key consideration.
The list will be reviewed annually. Other routes are under development and may be added to the list of Scotland’s Great Trails in the future, SNH said.