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ScotWays celebrates its 175th anniversary with virtual signpost challenge


By John Davidson

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ScotWays signs were taken down at the start of World War 2 and then re-erected, like these after the war.
ScotWays signs were taken down at the start of World War 2 and then re-erected, like these after the war.

A CHARITY which has fought for the public's right of access across Scotland for 175 years has issued a quirky invitation to celebrate the milestone.

The Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society – known as ScotWays – has been keeping the country connected since it was founded back in 1845.

The independent charity is widely recognised as an expert in the law and practice of access and advises on access problems, provides information and training, maintains a vast database about routes in Scotland and is home to the Heritage Paths project, a unique archive of Scotland’s old paths and roads. Its recognisable green and white signs can be seen on routes across Scotland.

To mark the occasion, ScotWays has issued an anniversary challenge to people to join a virtual journey following in the footsteps of early members as they erected the first signposts on public rights of way through the Cairngorms in 1885.

As people are not following the route for real, whatever they do during the day – be it a round of golf, walking the dog, a stroll around the local park or a walk to the shops – can be recorded and added to the challenge website to see a virtual ‘them’ progress along the 203km route.

Chief operating officer Richard Barron explained: "We are the oldest outdoor recreation body in the world. This is our 175th anniversary and despite everything that has happened this year, we still wanted to celebrate this amazing achievement. This is everyone’s chance to connect with our history, heritage and wonderful countryside and walk in the footsteps of our pioneers."

People can find out more about the challenge and join it on the ScotWays website at scotways.com/challenge, listening to extracts from broadcaster James Naughtie who reveals history and interesting facts in audio clips.

This includes an account of the original 1885 expedition.

Every day throughout the challenge the group will be posting information on Twitter and Facebook about the expedition, the route and the area.

All the daily facts will also be stored on the website where they can be accessed at any time.

Originally installed by the Walter Smith Deputation in July 1885.This particular sign is a replacement ordered from the Royal Label Factory, Stratford upon Avon, which arrived at Aviemore on 16 July 1925 via London, Midland and Scottish railways.Its originally had black letters on a white background and was installed by B MacLachlan, Carpenter.The cost appears to have been £2.0.6d excluding transport and installation.
Originally installed by the Walter Smith Deputation in July 1885.This particular sign is a replacement ordered from the Royal Label Factory, Stratford upon Avon, which arrived at Aviemore on 16 July 1925 via London, Midland and Scottish railways.Its originally had black letters on a white background and was installed by B MacLachlan, Carpenter.The cost appears to have been £2.0.6d excluding transport and installation.

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