The maintenance of mountain paths in Scotland has proved to be a thorny issue. There is a general acceptance that it needs to be done, but most funding organisations will only look at repair projects, rather than ongoing commitments. In an effort to overcome this conundrum the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) is running a volunteer scheme to improve the maintenance of mountain paths in the Cairngorms National Park. Walking-the-Talk manages the scheme on behalf of COAT.

The Cairngorms Adopt-a-Path Scheme (CAPS) has been developed in partnership with the North East Mountain Trust, and asks volunteers to inspect and report on the condition of their adopted paths. The volunteers are also trained to undertake minor maintenance on these adopted paths, helping to ensure that small problems are tackled quickly. Using the information gathered by volunteers, COAT will also engage path contractors to repair damage and maintain paths so that people can continue to enjoy the hills with the minimum of impact on this fragile environment. Funding for the scheme comes mainly from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.

We are looking for more volunteers to adopt paths to help manage the paths and ensure that money spent on maintenance is targeted and effective. Full training and support for volunteers is provided and over 60 paths are included in the scheme at present. Paths can be adopted by individuals or groups (such as hill walking clubs).

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