Yetholm to be start of Scottish National Trail

Scottish national trail.  Cameron McNeish
Scottish national trail. Cameron McNeish

KIRK Yetholm will be the start of a national trail through Scotland that is to open later this year, writes Sally Gillespie.

TV presenter, writer and outdoors enthusiast Cameron McNeish was in the Borders earlier this month filming on the new trail which First Minister Alex Salmond will launch later.

On his website, Mr McNeish says: “I passionately believe the Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail could become one of the iconic long-distance walking routes of the world and could add appreciably to the economies of the towns, villages and settlements it runs through.

“Scotland is now very well served by an astonishing array of good walking routes so it seems like the right time to develop a long-distance route that links them together to run the entire length of the country.”

The Scottish National Trail is being sponsored by Gore-Tex Footwear and the waterproof fabric manufacturer’s name will appear on waymarkers along the 373-mile route. The trail will take in parts of the St Cuthbert’s Way and Southern Upland Way in its southern section of 81 miles from Kirk Yetholm to Edinburgh. The trail will also follow several core paths around villages and towns.

Mr McNeish said: “I’ve been able to make full use of these paths in various parts of the country, particularly around Peebles and the Pentlands, in the Trossachs around Aberfoyle and in Badenoch.

His inspiration came from a visit to Nepal last year when the long distance Great Himalayan Trail through the country was launched.

“I thought then that if Nepal could have such a route why not Scotland? A route that connects the fabulous diversity of landscape that we have, from the rolling hills of the Borders to the untamed majesty of the far north-west.”

After Edinburgh, the national trail will make its way for 51 miles to Milngavie along the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals. The central Highland section between Milngavie and Aviemore will account for 125 miles incorporating the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way. The final route from Badenoch to Cape Wrath will be 119 miles including the Cape Wrath Trail.

Mr McNeish says: “I’ve walked the route in its entirety and have walked several sections a number of times. We all know how economically successful the West Highland Way has been and I believe the Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail will bring many walkers from overseas to Scotland to walk it in sections, or in some cases, in its entirety.”

He is working on a two-part television documentary on the new route to be aired at Christmas and hopes to publish a guide book to the trail this autumn.

The trail will have its own website showing the route and Gore-Tex Footwear plans to link key sections with outdoor shops to increase business at local stores.

The company’s Willie Fletcher said: “We believe the Scottish National Trail could soon become one of the most popular long-distance walking routes in the world and something we can all be very proud of in helping to create.

“We also hope it will help the economies of the remote towns, villages and settlements the route runs through by increasing tourism.”