'Gore-Tex' Scottish National Trail Launched Todayby Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Oct/2012
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Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has officially launched the so-called Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail in Edinburgh this afternoon.
The trail, brainchild of outdoor writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, who has written a book covering the route, runs the full length of the country from the English border to Cape Wrath, a distance of over 750km all told.
The route will follow existing trails as much as possible and includes sections of established long distance routes St Cuthbert's Way, the Southern Upland Way, the Water of Leith Walkway, the John Muir Way, the West Highland Way, the Rob Roy Way and the Cape Wrath Trail.
Speaking to the BBC, Cameron McNeish said: 'For some time I have believed passionately that Scotland should have a long-distance trail that ran the length of the country.'
Fair enough, as far as it goes - which is quite a long way.
But cynics might find it ironic that a First Minister so keen to industrialise the Scottish landscape should be promoting a trail that seeks to celebrate it in its unspoilt glory. A case of having one's cake and eating it?
The overt branding suggests a level of commercial involvement with which many will be uncomfortable, too.
UKH/UKC's Mick Ryan asked Cameron about this recently: 'Cameron, what is your view on the commercial branding of the Scottish National Trail and your book?'
He replied: 'Mick, public funding is now severely limited. Good that private funding is getting involved and not for [the] first time. We've already had a Tetley Trail in Scotland and TNF funded the North Face car park on Ben Nevis.'
Launch photo ops notwithstanding, for now the trail exists more as an idea than a reality on the ground.
'Initially there will be a plaque at the start in Kirk Yetholm and one at the end at Cape Wrath' says Cameron on his blog today. 'Another plaque will be placed in the Water of Leith Visitor Centre in Edinburgh where the launch is being held today.'
'In time I hope we can work with SNH and local councils to signpost the route a bit more but we'll have to see how that works out. The northern section of the trail, on the route of the Cape Wrath Trail, doesn't have any signposting at all and perhaps that's the way it should stay. I think there is an appetite in Scotland for a long, wild route like that where people have the pleasure of finding their own way.'