Mapping the hidden paths & trails in Orkney

Ramblers Scotland is hoping Orcadians will share some of their favourite walks and pathways.

The walking charity is running a campaign to recruit volunteers in a few selected lesser-mapped areas, like Orkney, to add to the online Scottish Paths Map. It features hundreds of previously-hidden trails, including paths checked and recorded by more than 200 Ramblers volunteers across the nation.

Heath Brown, community engagement officer at Ramblers Scotland, said:

“Our Scottish Paths Map includes tens of thousands of miles of paths – from traffic-free city routes to relaxing loch-side trails. Many are ‘hidden’ trails not previously been shown by Ordnance Survey.  

“While it’s the best-ever map of Scotland’s paths, we need communities to check their paths, to work to improve local routes so everyone in the local community has somewhere to walk. That includes here in Orkney where our coverage can definitely be improved so that more people can enjoy walks from their doorsteps. 

“It’s easy and fun to record trails using our simple app. Every time a volunteer checks or adds a path to the map, it makes it easier for people living in or visiting Orkney to get healthy and active on foot.”  

You can view the map and volunteer at

The Scottish Paths Map includes tens of thousands of miles of paths, using data collected by volunteers as well as from councils, national parks and charities. It has already been viewed 61,000 times since launching last autumn.  

Heath Brown added:

“Scotland has amazing countryside and world-class access rights, yet sadly many paths do not appear on printed maps.  

“Better mapping of the paths in Orkney can help give more people here the confidence and knowledge to get outdoors. 

“I’d urge all keen walkers in the area to consider volunteering. Whether you just audit one trail, or add dozens of hidden paths, you’ll be leaving a lasting legacy that supports walking in Orkney.” 

Ramblers Scotland offer a short free online training to all its mapping volunteers, as well as access to its free path checking software.  

Scottish Paths Map users are urged to exercise caution and remember the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, particularly as path audits will always be subjective.

In The Orkney New we have many walks checked out by Bernie and Mike Bell. If you would like to try them out just use the search button and find one you like. And there is the St Magnus Way.

Mike Bell at Wideford Cairn

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2 replies »

  1. Having seen the comments to this article on Facebook I’m reminded of this tale ……

    Years ago, when we lived in rural Suffolk, I used to walk our dog on the fields near where we lived – only actually on the fields when it was OK to do so, otherwise we walked along the main track-ways.

    One time, the crop was coming up nicely, and I saw a woman stomping across the field. I called to her, and asked did she realise that she was walking on a crop. She asked how was she supposed to tell the difference between grass and a crop.
    I said – a crop tends to be growing in rows.

    Our house backed onto a farm. Each year when the farmer ploughed and sowed his crop, he would walk a straight line from one corner of the field to the opposite corner. This was because the public footpath gets as far as one corner, then picks up again at the opposite corner (I know – a bit daft).
    If Neville walked a straight path repeatedly, so that it was obvious, then folk would, hopefully, follow that path and not wander vaguely across his field, messing up his crop. It mostly worked, as people do tend to follow paths if they are there – like sheep do.

    As for gates – I was taught to leave them as you find them – if open, open, if shut, shut.

  2. And then I remembered this one, taken from this….

    When we were leaving Suffolk and selling our house, this man was one of the viewers…

    “Knock on door. Middle-aged very average couple. They come in. They’re from London. He’s about to retire, are looking to move to a “cottage in the country”.
    Man is very ‘pushy’. As they look round, he’s pushy to the point of rudeness. However, it’s going quite well until they go into the garden.

    Note – the garden backs onto a field which belongs to a detached bungalow at the end of the row of cottages. It’s a field, but it’s kept mown.

    London Man “We’ve got a dog, a boxer, would he have access to that?”

    Owner “Well, no, that’s Melvin’s field, though it’s a field, it is part of his garden.”

    London Man “We could put a gate in the end here, then he’d have access”

    Owner “ No, it’s not a matter of physical accessibility, it’s his field, we don’t have access any more than he has access to our garden.”

    London Man “So, would he get mad if the dog went on there?”

    Owner “Well, he wouldn’t be too pleased, he’s a nice man and would be reasonable about it, but he’d probably get annoyed if it happened often.”

    Owner suddenly realises something and thinks – “Oh my god! he thinks it’s a park. He’s from London, he thinks that any stretch of mown grass is a park, to which he demands access as his right.”

    She explains the fact that this is, in fact, someone’s garden, very decidedly.”

    Fair enough – people have different ways of living but, if you’re going somewhere different, you should work with how things are there, as much as possible.

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