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29 Aug 2017

Why care about footpaths?

A stony footpath wends its way through a glen, surrounded by grass and boulders. Mountains surround the glen.
Few things are as tough as mountains, yet it’s vital they still receive our care and protection.

It’s difficult to think of a more perfect symbol of strength and longevity than mountains. They’ve been around for millions of years, seen centuries of human changes, and will surely carry on for many millennia more.

But these magnificent colossi of nature are far more fragile than we realise. Every year, thousands of walkers, naturalists, runners, cyclists and others set forth into Scotland’s mountains. The damage caused to footpaths is exacerbated by Scotland’s constantly changing climate: rain, frost, snow, gales and even blazing sunshine (sometimes in a single afternoon) erodes, dries and crumbles the soil around the paths.

Without dedicated care and attention, our footpaths would become eroded, scarring the landscape and leading to permanent damage.

Fortunately, the National Trust for Scotland has a passionate team who tirelessly work on our mountain footpaths to manage and minimise this destruction. Thanks to the dedicated work of Bob Brown and the upland footpath team, much of the large-scale damage amassed over many years has been reversed.

A group of men at work on a high mountain footpath, as mist swirls in the background. Three are levering a large boulder into place.
The Footpath Team hard at work

This is no mean feat: with over 400km of upland footpath in the Trust’s care, it’s a huge task to keep it all in good shape and fit for purpose. The team have limited resources, which they must use to assess all the problems on the paths and then deliver the essential restoration work. Every metre of our upland path network has been assessed – every step you take on our paths has had some thought put into it by the footpath team.

The incredible support given by Footpath Fund donors is greatly appreciated by the team: it’s only with this support that they’re able to carry out their crucial work, ensuring our upland footpaths are protected for us to enjoy today, and for everyone who follows in our footsteps. Thank you!

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