Broadcaster Cameron McNeish with members of the Outdoor Industries Association at Janet's Foss in Malhamdale

Broadcaster Cameron McNeish with members of the Outdoor Industries Association at Janet's Foss in Malhamdale

One of the country’s leading outdoors writers and broadcasters revealed he will be working with the BBC this year to film a project that will follow a route from Scotland’s border to its north-west extremity.

Cameron McNeish will start at Kirk Yetholm and wend his way to Cape Wrath for the series.

And with the nation’s independence high on the political agenda, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has given his blessing to the route, which is being dubbed the Scottish National Trail.

Mr McNeish, former editor of TGO magazine, said the idea came during a trip to Nepal.

“I was in Nepal last year,” he said. “They’ve just launched the Great Himalayan Trail, which runs the length of Nepal.

“So I thought: why don’t we do something like that in Scotland, from one end of the country to the other?”

The project will be filmed for a BBC screening.

Mr McNeish said: “I’ll be doing a long walk from the Borders, at Kirk Yetholm, the terminus of the Pennine Way, to Cape Wrath.

“I had a meeting with Scotland’s First Minister and he’s agreed to launch it for us, so it will have that Government stamp of approval.”

The idea is not to create new paths, but to use existing ones linked to create the trail from the South to the North-West.

Mr McNeish said: “Basically, we’re using the existing footpaths that are there. We start off on St Cuthbert’s Way, do a couple of days on the Southern Upland Way, move on to some Tweed Trails, go into Edinburgh, then walk beside canals to the West Coast, then the Rob Roy Way. We’re kind of linking them all together.

“That’s my summer project.”

He also said there was a move to have a definitive route for the section north of Fort William.

“There have been a few meetings in Scotland about the Cape Wrath Trail,” he said. “It’s a fabulous, fabulous walk from Fort William to the most north-westerly part of Scotland.

“At the moment there are two or three separate ways. There was a meeting with Scottish Natural Heritage and they’re quite keen to see one distinct route, so that will probably happen.”

The broadcaster spoke to grough at the recent annual meeting of the Outdoor Industries Association, the umbrella body for the disparate companies and individuals trading in the outdoor sector.

HF Holidays walk leader Andy Hauser, left, with members of the OIA at Gordale Scar

HF Holidays walk leader Andy Hauser, left, with members of the OIA at Gordale Scar

Mr McNeish joined association members in a walk led by HF Holidays leader Andy Hauser in Malhamdale, taking in the limestone ravine of Gordale Scar and the nearby 80m crag at Malham Cove.

Cameron McNeish recently joined the board of the OIA with a brief to increase the number of individual members in the organisation.

He said: “I think we have a number of organisations promoting the outdoors in Britain but they’re all ploughing their own lone furrow.

“I think there’s an opportunity here for the Outdoors Industries Association to bring these organisations together into one powerful lobbying voice.

“We have a fantastic potential in the UK to bring people from overseas and enjoy our hills, our footpaths.

“We have such a diversity of landscapes, from the south-west coast right through to the Highlands and I think the potential is absolutely enormous.

“I also have a real concern for our young people today. I really don’t believe there are opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle because a lot of them just aren’t very active.

“If I look back to my own youth, my mother would throw me out in the morning then come and look for us at tea-time to drag us back in and we never got fat. We ate all sorts of rubbish but we ran about all the time.

“We had adventures. I think that made a great difference and certainly from my generation there have been people who have become great innovators and I think that’s because they were risk-takers as children.

“I’m not blaming children; it’s us as parents or grandparents who have to take a bit more risk. Plus, we have a situation in Britain where not enough people are active and by being active we can save our health service millions of pounds a year. Even something as simple as taking half and hour’s exercise five days a week, it’s not an awful lot.

“The OIA wants to promote all of that in Britain and I think it’s a really good cause. We can bring all these organisations, such as the British Mountaineering Council, the Ramblers, bring them all together. We can have one voice when speaking to politicians; it can make a huge difference.

“I’ve been brought on board to head up a new membership category. Basically, we’re talking about people who are instructors, mountain guides, writers, walkers, because I think there’s a lot of potential.

“If we can bring all these people together under the umbrella of the OIA, I think we will have a much stronger voice.”

Cameron McNeish: 'two old guys having an adventure'

Cameron McNeish: 'two old guys having an adventure'

More immediately, the veteran writer revealed he will be embarking on what he calls his ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ venture.

“I’m just about to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats,” he said. “I wanted to walk it for as long as I can remember, but as I got older, I’m less inclined go on a trip for four months and thinking about some of the areas you have to go through to get from Land’s End to John O’Groats, thinking about where you’re going to camp, it becomes less appealing.

“So the idea of doing a bike ride, over a couple of weeks, is better. I’m doing it for an old friend. We met when I was 14; he was the best man at my wedding 40 years ago. It’s a kind of Last of the Summer Wine trip.

“It’s two old guys having an adventure.”