So yesterday saw the launch of Scottish National Trail, running from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders to Cape Wrath in the far north. At 470 miles this will be the longest trail in Scotland and the second longest in the UK (tipped by the South West Coast Path at 630 miles).
It’s great to see this first National Trail being launched, created by well known writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish. It takes in parts of the existing trails – the Southern Upland Way, St Cuthbert’s Way, the West Highland Way, Rob Roy Way and the Cape Wrath Trail – as well as following the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
For serious walkers it’s expected the Trail could take 4 – 6 weeks to complete, although I suspect that most people will be content to bite off smaller chunks.
I attended a talk by Cameron McNeish and Richard Else this week where they provided much more background to how the National Trail came about, its route and character. It’s clear that it will showcase the great variety of landscape that exists within a relatively small country, from the rolling borderlands through the former industrialised Central Belt and up through the Central Highlands to the much less populated far north.
It’s not a trail that is well signposted – at least, only those parts that follow existing paths and byways. For the most part, the recently-published book indicates the route using key settlements and other milestones but it’s for the walker to consult detailed maps to find the precise route. And for some sections, such as the Cape Wrath Trail (actually, not a signposted trail at all), there’s some discretion as to the exact paths and tracks you wish to follow. But no matter, for whichever path you take between Kirk Yetholm and Cape Wrath, you can still say you have walked Scotland’s National Trail.
For those of us in Scotland (possibly all of the UK?), look out for the two-part BBC Scotland programme being shown on 26th and 27th December 2012, where you can see Cameron McNeish walking and describing the new Trail in detail …