WALKING routes in the Borders are among 20 top hikes being promoted in Scotland.

Environment minister Stewart Stevenson MSP launched Scotland’s Great Trails in Peterhead last week.

The St Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose to Holy Island, the Southern Upland Way and the Borders Abbeys Way, linking Jedburgh, Kelso, Dryburgh and Melrose are included in the 1,300 miles of trails.

A countryside and access team spokesperson at Scottish Borders Council (SBC) said: “Each route has its own character – built heritage on the Borders Abbeys Way, pilgrimage to historic sites on St Cuthbert’s Way and remote countryside on the Southern Upland Way – the most challenging of the three. The routes are vitally important not only in bringing visitors to the region but also to introduce them to other attractions that they may want to return to visit. On a local level the routes ensure quality day walks that encourage health and happiness.”

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is behind the initiative to inspire more people to use the routes for short as well as long trips on foot, bike and horseback.

It has chosen what it describes as the best of Scotland’s long-distance paths to be marketed for the first time as a suite of trails.

Commenting on the longest of the walks in Scotland’s Great Trails, the Southern Upland Way, SBC senior ranger Keith Robeson said: “Anyone completing this trail in a single journey is undertaking a major challenge of stamina and fitness, but a challenge well worth attempting as this route traverses some fine upland scenery across the entire breadth of Southern Scotland.”

For more information on the gude featuring short trips on all 20 long distance routes, produced by SNH and VisitScotland, visit www.snh.gov.uk/enjoying-the-outdoors/where-to-go/routes-to-explore/scotlands-great-trails/