Paths are needed 'across the lowlands and highlands' say the Ramblers

Paths are needed 'across the lowlands and highlands' say the Ramblers

The campaigning organisation that was instrumental in securing world-class countryside access laws for Scotland has called on politicians to keep up the impetus of land reform.

Dennis Canavan, convener of Ramblers Scotland, will urge all political parties to continue working towards establishing the core paths network vital to help encourage more Scots to take up walking and outdoor activities.

Mr Canavan will today welcome Scottish Government environment minister Roseanna Cunningham to the Ramblers Scotland annual conference in Stirling.

He said: “Roseanna Cunningham has an impressive track record in campaigning for and delivering the Scottish land reform legislation.

“Back in 1994, when the Westminster Parliament was about to debate a right to roam bill for the UK, both Roseanna and our director Dave Morris were present at the press conference to generate public and political support.

“This was a significant milestone along the road which led to the Scottish Parliament securing our rights of access to land and water in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.  The right to roam legislation has proved to be world class.  In no other country are public rights of access so comprehensive while at the same time backed up with an Outdoor Access Code that explains how these rights are to be exercised responsibly.”

Dennis Canavan: 'We look to our politicians to provide the tools to deliver the paths'

Dennis Canavan: 'We look to our politicians to provide the tools to deliver the paths'

Despite belonging to competing political parties – Mr Canavan was a Labour party member before his party dropped him, and Ms Cunningham is a Scottish National Party stalwart – the two of them worked together on the access campaign.

Ms Cunningham said: “We’ve come a long way on land reform since the 1990s when I remember Dennis Canavan and me taking the same side in debates on the issue in the House of Commons.

“Scotland now has a Land Reform Act and Ramblers Scotland has played a large part in helping secure the implementation of this.

“The benefits are there for us all to see and I’m extremely pleased that the post-legislative report, issued this week, has recognised that the enabling approach of the act is working well.

“I have committed to continue the ongoing dialogue on the act to make sure we can learn lessons where possible.

“Ramblers Scotland is also doing a great job in encouraging people to get out and see the wonderful countryside that we have in Scotland.

“Their Walk the Path to 2014 initiative, developed as part of Active Nation, is playing a large part in that and I know we all want to see an increase in the numbers of people walking as part of their everyday lives in the run up to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.

“Walking is described as the perfect exercise by health professionals and we should all have the chance to enjoy its many benefits.”

Mr Canavan emphasised the work must continue, saying: “Now we must put in place the path networks that are needed around and between all our communities that will underpin our economic, environmental and social objectives.

“Walking and cycling to work, to school and to the shops must become a much bigger part of our lives.  We must have more opportunities to enjoy a stroll around our neighbourhoods. Physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle must have more priority on everybody’s personal agenda.

“We look to our politicians to provide the tools to deliver the paths that will take us around our localities and across the lowlands and highlands, from coast to coast.”

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