The North Lanarkshire Core Paths Plan was officially launched on Tuesday 1st May at the Access Forum AGM (it was formally adopted back in October 2011). The plan contains mapping detailing 346 paths throughout North Lanarkshire, and I managed to get hold of one at the meeting. One of the most surprising things I noticed was that none of the paths were in any way graded for ease of access, especially considering that there had been a very informative presentation about ‘Fully Accessible Paths’ at the AGM. At the moment it simply shows the location of paths, which is a start. Two good points are highlighted within the plan:
1) Section 19 gives a Council the power to do anything which it considers appropriate to maintain a core path, keep it free from obstruction or encroachment and provide the public with directions to a core path.
2) Section 20 places a duty on Councils to review and amend their Core Paths Plan at their discretion or when directed to by Scottish Ministers and goes on to set out the procedures and requirements following the amendment of the Plan.
In short, the councils now have the authority to keep paths clear which previously they had little or no control over, and the plan is not set in stone and can be added to. There were a few paths which I felt should have been included and weren’t. I’d like to think that over time these can be added.
Peter Wright MBE gave a presentation on his book “Ribbon of Wildness” and this was followed by a short question and answer session. Since writing the book Peter has begun revisiting the route, this time in reverse, and has noticed the effect of wind turbines on the views from the watershed. He was asked whether he supported them, and having seen their increase and effect said that he comes down firmly in the no camp.
Despite hundreds of emails being sent out the attendance for the AGM wasn’t great. To me it’s particularly concerning that local branches of groups such as Ramblers seem to have no presence here, and haven’t done for some time. At one time Ramblers was as much a campaigning group as a walking/social group, yet they are virtually invisible within Lanarkshire. In fact there appeared to be more MCofS members present than Ramblers, perhaps a sign of the MCofS’s more effective role in Scotland.