Before venturing into the outdoors it is important to be aware of your access rights and responsibilities. In Scotland we are very fortunate to have a legal right of access to land for recreational purposes. This is enshrined in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The right of access is based upon Responsible Access and there are obligations on both the land owner and the person exercising access rights.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code defines responsible access and is based upon three principles

  • Respect the interests of other people
  • Care for the environment
  • Take responsibility for your own actions

Before setting off on your walk it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with a few basic principles of the code. If you have a dog then take a look at the section on dog walking for a summary of your rights and responsibilities.

Responsibility for any access issues in lowland areas lies with the access authority. Usually this is the same as the local authority (ie council) although in national park areas it will be the park authority. If you encounter an access problem you should contact the relevant access authority. In Fife you can contact the access officer via their website. Other local authorities will have their own access officers.

In mountain areas issues with access should also be reported to the Mountaineering Scotland’s access officer. Other useful contacts for access issues are Scotways and Ramblers Scotland.

Core Paths

Many of the walks on this website make use of core paths. Each local authority in Scotland has a statutory duty to draw up a plan of “core paths”. These are a network of useful or important paths used by the public for recreation and everyday journeys. Core paths are available for non-motorised activities such as walking, cycling and horse riding. Details of the core path network across Scotland are available on the SNH website.

Rights of Way

Rights of Way have existed in Scotland for many centuries. Many of them have historical significance. There are a number of criteria which must be met, including being in use for at least 20 years, before a route can be recognised as a right of way. Rights of way may exist in areas where modern access rights do not apply (e.g. through a farmyard). The Scotways organisation can advise on access issues with rights of way.