Outdoor access

Paths in the Highlands

Core paths can be paths, waterways or any other means of crossing land to facilitate, promote and manage the exercise of access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, and are identified as such in access authority core paths plans. A Core Path Plan provides a basic framework of routes for the purpose of giving the public reasonable access throughout a particular area for walking, cycling, horse riding and other non-motorised activities.

Access rights must still be excerised responsibly on core paths.  If you have any query about a core path, say lack of directional signage (not all core paths are way marked) or regards the managment of the public of your land, then please contact an access officer for the area, see the contacts.

Interactive map of our Core Paths

PDFs of core paths:

There are a number of Long Distance Trails in Highland which promote multi day routes .

Core Path Diversions and Closures

Core paths should be accessible to the public at all times.  However severe weather events, structural defects on bridges and construction activitiy may lead to local diversions and in limited cases closure.    The core path plan is reviewed to reflect these circumstances but not all issues will fit into this review time table.  Below is points of note for the Highland Council Core Paths Plan.

  1. Bighouse Bridge, River Halladale by Melvich, Sutherland - The bridge on this core path, SU19.03, is closed due to structural defects.   The approach paths to Melvich Bay and at Bighouse are unaffected. 

  2. Kilbraur Bridge, River Brora, Sutherland - The bridge on this core path, SU06.02, is closed due to structural defects and will be removed shortly.  There is an alternative crossing at Dalvaich 2km upstream. 

West Highlands and Islands core paths plan review (started May 2015)

We have reviewed the core path plans for the West Highland and Islands area covering Skye, Lochalsh, Lochaber and Wester Ross. An amended core paths plan was published for consultation from July - October 2019.   Land owners and occupiers were notified where a core path is being proposed for the first time.   

The responses to this formal consultation have been assessed and recommendations are being put to the area committees. A further consultation on any modifications to the amended core paths plan is expected in Spring 2021.

View the amended core paths plan for West Highlands and Islands - not open for comments at this time. 

Inner Moray Firth core paths plan review

A call for core path changes in Easter Ross, the Black Isle, Inverness and Nairn was issued in June 2019. We are now considering which changes are practicable and the process of the review. A consultation on an amended Core Paths Plan for this area is expected in summer 2021.

For information on core paths in the Cairngorm National Park, please visit Cairngorm National Park Authority.

Caithness and Sutherland review (commenced June 2013)

The Modified Core Paths Plan (Caithness and Sutherland) Amended was published on the 26 April 2019.   Objections were received to the modified/amended core paths plan which were not resolved or withdrawn.  A Public Local Inquiry has taken place and The Highland Council is awaiting the outcome of this inquiry.

Modified Core Paths Plan (Caithness and Sutherland) Amended 

Outdoor Highlands

For information on other paths and access opportunities in Highland, including Long Distance Routes, please see our dedicated site.