Promoting the joy of walking in Scotland
Ramblers Scotland has created the nation’s most comprehensive interactive map of walking paths using ArcGIS. Now, hundreds of volunteers throughout Scotland are auditing the condition of these trails using ArcGIS Hub Premium and gathering up-to-date information that the charity can use to encourage more people to discover the joy of walking.
Around 40,000 miles of paths are now visible for the first time on a single, interactive map of Scotland, powered by ArcGIS
Hundreds of miles of paths have been mapped for the first time by layering diverse data sets in ArcGIS and integrating local knowledge
8,600 trails have been audited by 250 volunteers using the easy-to-use functionality and templates in ArcGIS Hub Premium
Ramblers Scotland is a walkers’ charity that works to protect and promote access rights and inspire people to spend time walking for pleasure. It recognises that walking is a very powerful activity that can improve health and wellbeing, as well as create wonderful memories for families and friends to share.
One of the charity’s key missions is to make information about Scotland’s paths easily available to everyone. However, there wasn’t a single, unified source of data about Scotland’s entire path network. Luke Phillips, Project Manager at Ramblers Scotland, explains, “There are lots of places where you can walk in Scotland, but there were not necessarily the resources available to show people where they could actually go.”
“This is the best ever map of Scotland’s trails, and it’s only going to get better as we expand and refine the data in the years to come.”
Danny Carden, Communications Manager, Ramblers Scotland
Setting out to address this challenge, Ramblers Scotland first used Esri’s ArcGIS software to bring together a wide range of datasets about Scotland’s paths, from multiple sources. Very soon, a comprehensive picture of all the trails in Scotland began to emerge, from remote mountain passes to pushchair- and wheelchair-accessible paths in town and city centres.
Then, using ArcGIS Hub Premium, Ramblers Scotland set up a community hub that would allow volunteers and community groups to submit local knowledge about paths, walk along local routes, gather data about the condition of paths and upload this information. The charity has over 250 volunteers from the Shetland Islands to Dumfriesshire. Using out-of-the-box functionality and templates, it was able to create a straightforward process for submitting data and images, that was very simple for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to use and easy to scale up in the future.
The initial test run of ArcGIS Hub Premium took place in the west of Scotland, using path data amalgamated from around twelve different sources. This trial enabled the project team to see what the new ArcGIS-based paths map would look like and understand the role that volunteers could play in auditing paths. “The results were amazing,” says Danny Carden, Communications Manager at Ramblers Scotland. “We couldn’t believe how many hidden trails suddenly emerged from the data. The test gave us confidence to go further across the nation.”
“I’m really proud to have worked on this project, because we’ve taken an idea and built it into something that’s really big and growing that will benefit the whole country, helping people get outdoors and be more active.”
Luke Phillips, Project Manager, Ramblers Scotland
A single paths map for Scotland
Powered by ArcGIS, the Scottish Paths Map is now live on the Ramblers Scotland website, enabling anyone to zoom into a specific area and find new trails to explore. The Scottish Paths Map currently shows around 40,000 miles of paths including many that are not shown on Ordnance Survey maps. In the first month alone, the Scottish Paths Map attracted in excess of 30,000 visitors, demonstrating just how valuable a resource this is for people living in and visiting Scotland. “This is the best ever map of Scotland’s trails, and it’s only going to get better as we expand and refine the data in the years to come,” says Carden.
New paths revealed for people to enjoy
By using ArcGIS to combine all known data sets about paths, from many different sources, Ramblers Scotland discovered hundreds of miles of paths that it had not previously been aware of. “So far, the data has revealed tens of thousands of miles of paths and we’ve gathered possibly two to three thousand additional miles through volunteer participation,” says Phillips. “I’m really proud to have worked on this project, because we’ve taken an idea and built it into something that’s really big and growing that will benefit the whole country, helping people get outdoors and be more active.”
Routes easily audited by volunteers
The community hub created using ArcGIS Hub Premium is very easy for people to use, without training or technical knowledge. Consequently, almost everyone who enjoys walking can get involved in auditing trails and use ArcGIS to collect high quality data that Ramblers Scotland can then refine and share. “We wanted to share Scotland’s path network with more people, and the best way to do that was to create an inclusive tool that our volunteers could populate themselves,” says Carden. “Using ArcGIS Hub Premium, we have been able to create a really easy-to-use and straightforward tool for volunteers.”
Positive engagement with communities
Since implementing ArcGIS Hub Premium, Ramblers Scotland has successfully audited 8,600 paths, covering many thousands of miles. “The numbers are really impressive, but what’s really encouraging for us is how we’ve inspired communities to start recording their path networks, and auditing and sharing them with others, so more people right across Scotland can get active on foot,” Carden says. “Our whole purpose is to link communities, so the idea that we are getting volunteers out on the ground through ArcGIS to make that happen is hugely encouraging.”