Countryside Access


Community Funding for Core Paths

Highland Council Planning & Development Service Access Team have secured £585,000 of funding (with 45% from the Highland LEADER Programme) to provide a programme of Core Path Improvements across Highland, over three years, targeted at Community Councils and other community groups.  

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 came into force on 9th February 2005 bringing in a range of new rights and responsibilities for both land managers and recreation users. It gives the Council a number of new statutory duties and powers. The Act establishes a statutory right of responsible access to land and inland for -

  • Outdoor recreation
  • Crossing land
  • Some educational and commercial purposes

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has been produced by Scottish Natural Heritage to give guidance on your responsibilities when exercising access rights. It outlines the 3 key principles of responsible access:

  1. Respect the interests of other people
  2. Care for the Environment
  3. Take responsibility for your own actions

The Highland Council has a statutory duty to implement the new powers and obligations of the Act and has an Access Team delivering services throughout the Highlands apart from that area contained within the boundaries of the Cairngorm National Park.  To obtain access information for the National Park follow the External Link.

Public Rights of Way

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.

Core Path Network Plan

Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, Highland Council, as the Access Authority, has a statutory requirement to produce a Core Path Plan to cover its area.

The Core Paths aim to satisfy the basic needs of local people and visitors for general access and recreation and will provide links to the wider path network throughout the Highland Council area. These Core Paths comprise a mixture of existing paths with some new paths. These paths are close to where people live and can range from tracks worn into natural ground to high-specification constructed paths.

Local Access Forums     

The Highland Council has established 6 Local Access Forums throughout the Highlands in each of the following geographical areas -  Caithness, Sutherland, Skye and Lochalsh, Lochaber, Ross and Cromarty and Inverness and Nairn who advise the Council on access issues. Meetings are regularly held and are open to the public.

Access Strategy

The Highland Council Access Strategy provides a strategic framework for the development of Core Path Plans which the Council was required by statute to prepare and submit to Scottish Executive Ministers by February 2008.

Exemption Orders

Where events take place that may affect the public taking access, an Exemption Order may be required to exempt that area of land for the duration of the event.