A NETWORK of paths connecting Borders communities is a step closer reality after a short-list of potential routes was drawn up.

The five proposed shared access routes have received the backing of the general public through a recent consultation exercise.

The routes will now be given further consideration as part of a longer-term aspiration to develop a network of paths throughout the Borders that can be used for walking, cycling, horse riding and wheeling.

Communities and members of the public were asked at the end of last year to tell the council which routes they would want to see developed with a view to linking towns, villages and places together.

The five most popular routes identified by the general public were:

Tweedbank to Eyemouth;

Hawick to Denholm;

Hawick to Selkirk;

Lauder to Oxton;

Clovenfords to Walkerburn

This recent consultation is part of a wider strategy from the council to help link communities together, promote more active travel in the Borders and encourage opportunities for economic development and job creation.

The council is currently working with sustainable transport charity Sustrans to develop an Active Travel Strategy for the Borders which will help identify the projects and initiatives that will provide the maximum benefit for our residents and communities.

Last summer, a multi-use path connecting Peebles to Eddleston was officially opened, following a substantial amount of work by the local community, landowners and Scottish Borders Council. The majority of funding for the development of the route was provided by the Scottish Government through Sustrans and South of Scotland Enterprise.

Councillor Jenny Linehan, SBC’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “Expanding the active travel network across the Scottish Borders is a growing priority for the council allowing us to promote healthier lifestyles, drive economic growth and contribute to the council’s climate change goals.

“We’re committed to expanding the network of paths across the Borders and by identifying these five routes we have a clearer picture of what routes our communities would like us to try and develop in the future.

“Later in the year we will be inviting members of the public to input into the development of the Active Travel Strategy which will help shape what we work on in future years.”