Volunteers make a big impact on the National Cycle Network, and although more help is needed, only a matter of minutes makes a lot of difference.

Volunteers from the Ayrshire Coastal Path group take place in a litter-pick along National Cycle Network Route 73 in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire. The group received funding and support from the Love Your Network grant fund, which seeks to support communities in making small improvements which make journeys on the National Cycle Network more enjoyable for everyone. Grant funding is available for projects which benefit people or wildlife across National Cycle Network routes in Scotland, with community groups able to apply for grants of between £100 and £750.

Laura White the Network Engagement Coordinator with charity Sustrans in Scotland explained: “Throughout the pandemic, I’ve seen our amazing volunteers prove that many people taking small actions can have a huge combined impact.

“In May 2021, Sustrans Scotland partnered with Keep Scotland Beautiful for their Summer Clean pledge.

“People pledged just 20 minutes of their time to litter pick a mile of local National Cycle Network.

“Our target was to clean up 500 miles during the three-week campaign. In the end, nearly 100 people pledged their time and they cleaned 600 miles of Network routes across Scotland.

“Volunteers told me that the motivation which the Summer Clean gave them to get out on the Network, even for a short time, really helped their mental health.

“One volunteer who originally pledged 20 minutes during the summer went on to join our autumn barrier audit.

“This project trained 40 volunteers across Scotland to survey, assess and record barriers along the Network.

“Across a two month period, volunteers surveyed 267 miles of Scotland’s traffic-free routes and recorded information on over 1,600 barriers.

“The information these volunteers gathered is now helping our Network Development Team and their partners to remove or redesign barriers which are preventing many people from walking, wheeling and cycling on the paths.

“Volunteers are enabling us to create paths which are for everyone. And this vital work simply wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Take a look at Quick ways to volunteer in Scotland.

Sustrans is the charity which aims to make it easier for people to cycle, walk or wheel for more of their everyday journeys.

Reusable 2 Minute Clean Up bag, pictured along National Cycle Network Route 754/Union Canal towpath in Edinburgh