Walking

High Hopes for Annandale Way

18 Sep , 2009  

The Annandale Way, a 55 miles long distance walk which links Moffat and Annan has been launched with high hopes. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard Reports

The 55-mile Annandale Way follows the course of the River Annan from its mouth at the Solway to above the Moffat Beef Tub.And it is hoped that it will rival Scotland’s existing famous long-distance walks, the Southern Upland Way and the West Highland Way, and become a popular nationally recognised route, encouraging visitors to the region.

The Annandale Way is the latest in a string of Scottish long distance walks launched by local groups recently, all hoping to cash in on the success of long distance walking holidays as a driver for tourism.The West Highland Way route is undoubtedly a world class walking holiday, but there are numerous other walks that have been launched in Scotland recently that although pleasant, just don’t meet the grade and have failed to take off and deliver the hoped for benefits to the local economy.

There is no doubt that a world class walk will bring substantial benefit to the local area, but is the Annandale Way world class? Will it amaze, enthuse and inspire those who choose to walk the 55 miles from Moffat to Annan? Southern Scotland is a beautiful area and I certainly am looking forward to examining this walk in more detail but my gut feeling is that it will not reach the “world class” standard and therefore fail to deliver the numbers of walkers which will create a much needed boost to the local tourist economy.

In my opinion a long distance walking trail has to have the following attributes to take off:

  • A path that is predominantly footpath – forest tracks and minor roads are not acceptable.
  • Good transport links to the start and end of the walk.
  • Spectacular scenery that changes along the length of the walk.
  • Points of interest to look forward to and explore.
  • Good quality accommodation at regular intervals along the length of the trail that is welcoming to walkers.
  • A baggage transfer service – often initially operated by local taxi firms.
  • A published or down loadable map and route notes.
  • Comprehensive way marking.
  • A critical mass of walkers to create a sense of camaraderie and shared adventure.

Does your proposed project meet these criteria? I certainly hope so as I believe there are numerous opportunities for further world class long distance walks in Scotland just waiting to be developed. The Sutherland Trail – a walk pioneered by the author and broadcaster Cameron McNeish – would seem to be a prime candidate for the Highland Council and local community to examine.

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Founder and Chief Adventure Officer of Macs Adventure. With a passion for adventure and active travel, I firmly believe that the very best way to discover a country, its landscape, culture and people is under your own steam. I have travelled extensively in Southern and East Africa, Australasia, Europe and Asia and spend my time walking, climbing, mountain biking and kite-surfing in Scotland and around the world. I love living in Glasgow with my wife, son and daughter, although I am trying unsuccessfully to convince them to move closer to my favourite kite surfing spot in Troon.