Core Paths FAQs

Outdoor Access – Core Paths: Frequently Asked Questions

Courtesy of Glasgow City Council

What is a Core Path?

Core Paths are paths or routes, including waterways, to facilitate the exercise of access rights under the 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act. Only paths identified in the Core Path Plan will form the system of Core Paths.

What is the Core Path Plan?

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act came into effect in February 2005. The Act places various new duties on local authorities, one of which is to draw up a system of paths “sufficient for the purpose of giving the public reasonable access throughout their areas”. These paths are to be known as Core Paths.

What will the Core Path Network provide?

The Core Path Network as a whole should provide for all forms of recreational access, e.g. walking, cycling, horse riding, canoeing, etc.

What will the Core Path Plan consist of?

The Core Path Plan, once adopted, will normally comprise three elements:


  • Map or maps of the Core Paths system

  • List of designated Core Paths

  • Supporting text

Will all paths become Core Paths?

Not all paths in an area will become Core Paths, but they will form the basic framework of routes and they will link into and support the wider network of paths.

Where will they be?

It is expected that many Core Paths will be located close to where people live, or where they can be used by visitors and tourists. There should be a particular emphasis on the Core Path Network in the urban fringe providing connections with the wider countryside, and providing links through green corridors and public open spaces. The system should also link coherently across authority area boundaries.

Can a public road be a Core Path?

Yes. There may be situations where a safe and quiet public road is required to complete a section of the path network where off-road path opportunities do not exist.

Can inland water routes be considered as Core Paths?

Yes. Where demand and opportunities exist for such paths, people with inland water interests, e.g. fisheries or canoeing groups, should be engaged during the development of the Core Path Plans.

Will Core Paths appear on Ordnance Survey maps?

Yes, as purple dotted lines. Ordnance Survey is proposing to include Core Paths on its 1:25,000 Explorer Series maps as this is rolled out and updated across Scotland.

What is the difference between a Core Path and a Public Right of Way?

Public Rights of Way come into being if key common law criteria governing past public use are satisfied. Where these rights exist, they offer unqualified access. Rights of Way do not necessarily have to become Core Paths. However, they do represent a large source of potential Core Paths, many of which are well used or could offer good access opportunities if improved and promoted.

Will all paths be multi-use from now on?

This is not required, nor would it be welcomed by many users who wish to see a variety of paths for different purposes. It may also not be feasible to upgrade some paths to accommodate full shared use due to problems of terrain, drainage or land use.

Return to Core paths