Whether it’s wandering on one of 26 long-distance routes or bagging one of the country’s 282 impressive Munros, Scotland is renowned for its memorable walking opportunities with new figures revealing the market generates up to £1.26 billion to the Scottish economy.
The research by VisitScotland found that in 2015, 4 million trips by visitors from the UK included walking as an activity, with figures broken down into short walks and long walks. The latter increased by almost a fifth (18%) on the previous year.
To celebrate the country’s walking routes, VisitScotland has created a special video offering an exclusive bird’s eye view of the breathtaking landscapes visitors can enjoy when walking in Scotland. A Unique Perspective – Walking in Scotland was shot in the Cairngorms around Aviemore and includes views of the Green Lochan, Ruthven Barracks, the Highland Folk Museum, Loch Morlich and Loch an Eilein.
From the West Highland Way to the Great Glen Way, and the Speyside Way to the John Muir Way, Scotland is famed for its long-distance walking routes, many of which pass through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
Walking was most popular with those aged 55-64 but millennials made up over a quarter (26%) of visitors participating in long walks.
The country is also known for its many country parks which are a popular draw for families and dog owners. In 2015, as measured by the Visitor Attraction Monitor, Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell emerged as the most popular outdoor attraction welcoming more than 5.4 million visitors, while Rouken Glen Park in Giffnock enjoyed impressive yearly growth, increasing visitor numbers between 2014-2015 by more than a fifth.
Walking also emerged as one of the most popular activity pages on the VisitScotland website, with ‘munro-bagging’ viewed on average 68 times per day in 2016. Walkhighlands – which is dedicated to walking – receives around 200,000 page views each day in total.
With a growing interest in health and wellbeing, the national tourism organisation believes walking as part of a holiday could become even more popular in 2017.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “From the West Highland Way and the Cairngorms, to country parks and city-based strolls, Scotland is famous for its stunning scenery and there is no better way to enjoy it than on foot. Scotland is an extremely accessible destination. The Walkers Welcome scheme and the Right to Access policy make it incredibly easy for outdoor enthusiasts to travel around the country.
“The growing interest in health and wellbeing presents a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to promote itself, not only through its inspiring landscapes but also through the health benefits of walking and being outdoors. VisitScotland continues to work with communities to showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories in every region in Scotland.”