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August Newsletter — Ramblers Scotland Member Profile

Published 20 August 2020 by Transform Scotland

Ramblers Scotland is a membership organisation and charity with a grassroots network of 54 local groups who normally run 3,500 group walks a year, organised and led by experienced volunteers. As the representative body for walkers in Scotland and a governing body of sport, we work to champion walking, protect and promote access rights and develop our path networks. We are part of the Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity which was founded in 1935.

We’re passionate about walking, and we want to make sure that everyone, from all backgrounds and communities across the country, is able to get outdoors and enjoy all the benefits of walking for their health and wellbeing, as well as supporting local economies.  In terms of active travel, walking is the most sustainable form of transport there is, and we’re keen to make it easier for people to undertake more of their shorter journeys on foot.

During the Covid-19 strict lockdown period, the Scottish Government explicitly allowed local outdoor exercise based on our world-class access rights to continue, recognising the importance of this for people’s health.  It was uplifting to see the volume of people flocking to the outdoors during such a worrying and challenging time.  We are now making the case for increased investment in our paths and greenspaces, for outdoor recreation facilities, education and more ranger services, to make sure that everyone has the option to walk or cycle from their front door to wider countryside on safe, pleasant routes and enjoy the great outdoors responsibly.  This isn’t just about improving our health, it’s good for the economy too – outdoor recreation in Scotland is worth £2.6 billion each year in expenditure from Scottish residents alone, and VisitScotland estimates that walking tourism is worth £1.26 billion.

We’re also keen to reduce the carbon footprint of our activities and encourage our groups to walk locally.  At this time, using public transport and sharing cars is more problematic due to Covid-19, but we support Transform’s work to get investment in realistic public transport options, so that we can get to the great outdoors without using our cars.

Current exciting projects include our Out There Award, which aims to break down barriers to the outdoors for young people aged 18-26, by giving them the skills, experience and an outdoors volunteering activity which will build their confidence and lead to a lifetime of walking.  Also, our Mapping Scotland’s Paths project is aiming to improve the publicly-available mapping of paths in Scotland, to help us all to plan ahead and find more places to walk, and also to assist communities in developing their own local path networks, to improve access to the outdoors for all residents.

For more information, see https://www.ramblers.org.uk/scotland

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