Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 11:49 UK

Call to mark hillwalking routes

Map and compass
The council said walkers should use a map and compass

Routes over Scotland's hills and mountains should be marked as they are in continental Europe, according to a hillwalker and political columnist.

Iain Macwhirter, who writes for The Herald and Sunday Herald, said it would make such areas accessible to all and not just an "elite".

However, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland said a move towards way marking could be dangerous.

Chief officer David Gibson said people should navigate by map and compass.

Mr Macwhirter said: "If you go anywhere else in Europe where there is a mountain culture - France, Germany - you will find that wherever you go out in the hills you are given guidance about where you are, where you are going, how high you are going to go and how long the route will take you.

"They regard the hills as an important natural resource which has to be managed."

'Ill-equipped walkers'

He said it was ridiculous to suggest that way marking would harm the purity of Highland areas.

In a response posted on the Mountaineering Council of Scotland website, Mr Gibson asked who would be responsible for marking routes and negotiating with landowners on where they should be located.

Instead, he said people should train up in mountain skills.

He said: "Knowing how to use a map and compass can save your life.

"Marked paths would not render their use redundant, but would simply encourage ill-equipped walkers to venture into the hills expecting routes to be marked.

"What if they missed a marker?"

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