MORE THAN 100 miles of new and improved public paths are to be created across Scotland as part of a scheme to boost public outdoor access.

By the end of this year, an equivalent distance to the whole of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William will have been funded by Scotland's Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, with a total of £8.5 million committed. Scottish Natural Heritage said that the paths would make it easier for people to enjoy the Scottish countryside with opportunities for all, including walkers, wheelchair users, cyclists, horse riders and buggy users.

The new and improved paths will connect towns and villages and provide a variety of ways to explore the outdoors in coastal areas, along riverbanks, to viewpoints – and around farmland. In total 138 projects have been funded, with 52 due to be completed in 2019.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Thanks in part to EU funding, these new and improved pathways, should encourage even more people to get outside and participate in recreational activities, with all the associated benefits for physical and mental health.

“The Scottish Government is very proud to fund this initiative, as we continue to champion the right to responsible access across Scotland.”

SNH chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “Good quality and well signposted paths can make it easier for more people to enjoy our great outdoors, so with summer ahead it’s fantastic to be able to celebrate the success of this scheme in delivering so many quality routes across the country."