Ramblers Scotland has revealed eight of the country’s best so-called “hidden paths”. They have all been mapped for the first time thanks to the organisation’s award-winning Scottish Paths Map.
What is the Scottish Paths Map?
The walking charity’s online map features hundreds of previously unmapped trails, including quality paths checked and logged by more than 400 Ramblers volunteers who are based across the country, from Shetland to Dumfriesshire.
It is hoped that that the map, which launched in 2021, will become a comprehensive map of the country’s walking routes.
Volunteers have already added more than 2800 paths to the map, totalling around 1500 miles in length.
Top 8 ‘hidden paths’
Ramblers Scotland believes the eight hidden trails have never featured on print or online maps before. All are high-quality paths that have been checked by Ramblers Scotland and they offer attractive walks.
Luke Phillips, Mapping Scotland’s Paths project manager, said: “Ramblers Scotland’s Scottish Paths Map includes many thousands of miles of paths, from traffic-free city routes to relaxing loch-side trails. As well as all the existing paths that have been checked by volunteers, we’re extra excited about the ‘hidden’ trails they’ve discovered along the way.
“It’s been fun putting together this list, which we hope will inspire more people to use the map and add their own local paths.
“We’ve picked a broad range of places – from woods on the edges of housing estates to gentle rural hill walks – to showcase the potential for the map to help all sorts of walkers to discover exciting new adventures.”
Existing paths up-dated
As well as recording new hidden paths, Ramblers Scotland volunteers have audited 13,000 existing mapped paths, totalling around 4000 miles in length. The walking charity offers a short free online training to all its mapping volunteers, as well as access to its path-checking software.
Luke added: “While the Scottish Paths Map is the best-ever record of the nation’s paths, there’s still huge potential for it to be further refined and expanded. It’s easy and fun for walkers to record trails using our simple app.
“Every time a volunteer checks or adds a path, they can take pleasure in knowing they’ve made it a little easier for others to get healthy and active.”
You can view the map and volunteer at ramblers.org.uk/scottishpathsmap. The online map has received more than 113,000 visits since the launch. It won the Community Engagement category at the 2022 ESRI UK Customer Excellence Awards.
Scottish Paths Map users are urged to exercise caution and remember the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, particularly as path assessments will always be subjective.
The project has received funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Paths for All’s Smarter Choices Smarter Places fund. The map expands upon existing open-source data.
Eight of Scotland’s best hidden paths
1. Kellie Law, Fife
This attractive path has never featured on Ordnance Survey or online maps, despite being fairly popular among Fife locals in-the-know. It leads to a scenic trig point with views across the Firth of Forth. By linking with recorded paths nearby, it creates a scenic loop, passing wildlife-filled hedgerows. Walkers should expect to need to climb a stile next to a locked gate.
2. Lurg Loch & Little Dumglow, near Cleish, Perth & Kinross
While existing maps include a few paths on this hillside, there are also several “hidden paths, such as this one, which opens a range of new options. The path allows walkers to loop around the waterlily and rush-covered Lurg Loch, and to link with two more hidden paths.
One of the latter trails follows the grassy ridge to the scenic mini-peak of Little Dumglow, while another heads north-east to a parking spot via self-closing gates. Watch out for Buzzards, Wheatears and big views towards Loch Leven.
3. Craig Rossie/Beld Hil near Auchterarder, Perth & Kinross
This characterful hill above Auchterarder affords expansive views north over Strathearn that are disproportionate to the hill’s modest 410m height. It allows a two to three-hour circular walk. It is surprising that the path has never before been mapped as it follows a well-used walking trail that has been widened through use by a quad bike. There is one locked gate on the north side of Craig Rossie next to a low wire fence.
4. Kingussie hillside, Cairngorms
This path is just outside Kingussie, yet even on a busy summer day, it feels a world away from the bustle of the lively Cairngorms National Park town. It skirts the base of dense pinewoods and offers spectacular views to the Cairngorm plateau, with minimum effort.
Walkers can enjoy the sound of Woodpeckers in the trees, the sweet smell of the pine trees and colourful heather either side of the trail. The path starts at a short flight of steps on a street called West Terrace, where there is some limited parking available. Remember to shut all gates as horses are sometimes kept in fields along the route.
5. Woods at Corpach, West Highlands
This short circular woodland walk is a great example of how the Scottish Paths Map can help communities highlight the hidden gems on residents’ doorsteps. It leads from streets in Corpach village, a heartland of West Highlands industry.
These well-used paths include a few steep climbs, passing through a mixed woodland on informal paths. For people looking to extend the walk, a stile at the north end of the loop connects to the open fields and rough hillside above.
6. Shaw Wood in Paisley, Renfrewshire
These little-known paths in south-east Paisley are perfect for residents in the many nearby housing estates to stretch their legs. Some sections are quite muddy underfoot in the field section and there are a few tight squeeze openings next to gates for visitors to negotiate. However, intrepid walkers will be rewarded by unexpected peri-urban parkland among attractive trees and open clearings.
7. Crookston Wood, Glasgow
It is remarkable that that beautiful path in Pollok area of Glasgow has never before been mapped, either on print maps or online, so we are proud to showcase it on the Scottish Paths Map! There are three separate entrances to Crookston Wood that all link with a main circular loop, which features well-maintained paths and towering trees on a small urban hillside.
8. Philipston Muir, West Lothian
This woodland path is short but very useful, as it allows people enjoying the popular towpath next to the Union Canal at Philipston Muir to create quiet and varied loop walks. Nearby there is an interesting large bing, a hill created by the heaped tailings of former mining in the area. This path, which runs just to the east of the bing and near the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail line, has never been mapped before.
See Hidden Paths.