Research just published by VisitScotland highlights the importance of walking when it comes to evaluating tourism in Scotland, writed Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).
New figures reveal that the walking market generates up to £1.26 billion to the Scottish economy. The research found that in 2015, 4 million trips by visitors from the UK included walking as an activity, with figures broken down into short walks (up to two miles) and long walks (minimum of two miles). The latter increased by almost a fifth (18%) on the previous year.
Luckily for us, wherever you explore in Midlothian, you are never far from the countryside and so the area is a favourite for walkers, whether for long or short walks. The Pentland Hills Regional Park, for example, offers over 100km of signposted routes available across the hills and, for the less adventurous, Lord Ancrum’s Wood, at Newbattle Abbey, provides some attractive riverside walks in its woodland.
In fact the wealth of walking opportunities across the area has just been celebrated in the annual Midlothian Walking Festival. Organised by the Midlothian Ranger Service, this year’s programme included 31 events. The festival is now firmly established in Midlothian’s growing calendar of events and provides a great opportunity to explore our wonderful landscapes under the guidance of knowledgeable and enthusiastic leaders, who contributed their own time to make the event a success.
There was more good news for our outdoor spaces when environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful awarded ‘Green Flag Status’ to five of our parks, in recognition of their high standards and provision of quality outdoor space. The five – Roslin Glen, Memorial Park in Loanhead, King’s Park in Dalkeiith, Springfield Mill and Vogrie Country Park – are all run by Midlothian Council and the award acknowledges the benefits which these open spaces bring to local residents and visitors alike. With these awards, the success of the walking festival and valuable work undertaken by the Ranger Service, Midlothian is well placed to benefit from the continuing appeal of walking for visitors to Scotland in the future.