Path Grading System

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The Path Grading System for Scotland helps path managers to simply, consistently and accurately describe paths to walkers, cyclists and riders. Using this standard system will help path users to pick a route that suits their needs. 

Path Grading SystemThe six part system helps path users understand path features including:

  • The path name and wayfinder symbol or colour information
  • Path promotion: key features such as heritage, wildlife or fauna
  • Path grading symbols: easy, moderate or strenuous
  • Terrain description: gradient, path surface, width and obstacles.
  • Distance of the path in miles and km
  • Time estimate based on walking


The Path Manager's Guide to Grading

The Path Managers Guide to Grading is an easy-read, essential guide for path managers across Scotland.


We hold training courses for professionals who want to learn how to use the Path Grading System. Check our training events calendar for the next course dates, or contact our training team by email.


January 2016 update to the guide

Following feedback from users, in January 2016 we made the following 2 changes to The Path Managers Guide to Grading:
Page 6: The usable width of an 'Easy' grade path changed from 'Generally 1200mm' to 'Generally 1000mm'
Page 6: Obstacles on an 'Easy' grade path - narrow gates or gaps have been defined as '<800mm'

The 3 changes below were made to the Guide in July 2015:
Page 6: The Easy grade gradient now allows for short ramps to be included: "Maximum 12%, except for short ramps (<10m) up to 20%".
Page 6: The Moderate grade can now include grass surfaces.
Page 8: Long slope duration in a Terrain Description is now defined as 200m to 400m in length (previously 100m to 200m).

Development of the path grading system
The system was developed with detailed research into path attributes and user testing. This provided in-depth insight into the decision processes of path users and non-users. The research report can be downloaded below.

icon Final Report - Evaluation of the new path grading system (6.66 MB)

Forestry Commission Scotland, Paths for All and Scottish Natural Heritage developed the system in partnership. For further information please email us.

Paths for All logo SNH LogoForestry Commission Logo

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh