There is an extensive network of footpaths and hill walking routes in the Highlands. This is a magnificent asset, providing opportunity for healthy outdoor recreation in scenic surroundings. As Local Planning Authority, the Council has a duty under the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 to asset, protect and keep open and free from obstruction or encroachment any public right of way within its area. The Council may also take appropriate legal action to maintain the public right of passage and can also divert or extinguish routes where necessary.
Enquiries or disputes about rights of way should be referred to the Planning and Development Service and it is usually possible to resolve difficulties or problems without recourse to the courts. The Planning and Development Service retains copies of maps supplied by the Scottish Rights of Way Society which show the major drove roads and other routes in the Highlands. Several Community Councils have also been encouraged to record their own information on rights of way and this is similarly available to the public. Rights of Way exist separately from new access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
Some paths and remote routes may require expenditure on maintenance and signposting. The Council has a modest annual budget to assist with the maintenance of rights of way and wherever possible other bodies, such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Rights of Way Society, Community Councils and landowners have been actively involved in the joint funding of repairs and improvements or providing expert advice. This is an area of involvement which is likely to expand in future with the continuing growth of public interest in outdoor pursuits and hill-walking activities within Highland.
Reporting Rights of Way issues and Route Improvement Requests
Issues concerning Rights of Way and requests for improvements should be directed to the Highland Council Access Officers. Links to Access Officers and contact details are provided on the Access contacts page.