I remember the morning well when I dropped my son off at the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie.

As he and a group of his cousins marched off cheerily in the May sunshine I had a slight tinge of regret that I was not going with them.

What held me back was the realisation that the West Highland Way is far from being a stroll in the park. It’s 96 miles over moor and mountain, with the added hazards of rain and midges.

Previously, I had done two long distance walks in Namibia and Brazil to raise money for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres and still had vivid memories of the blisters and insect bites. But I had prepared for the best part of a year and made it to the finishing lines relatively unscathed and with the satisfaction of having raised a considerable amount for the charity.

Long distance paths have sprung up all over the place in the past decade and Scotland now has 26 which showcase some of our best scenery. Among them is the John Muir Way, running from Dunbar to Helensburgh, and the Great Glen Way which connects Fort William and Inverness, a distance of 79 miles.

However, much closer to home is the Ayrshire Coastal Path which runs 100 miles from Glenapp in the south to Skelmorlie. What I hadn’t realised until fairly recently was that the path was the result of a Rotary project.

The Rotary Club of Ayr began a major four-year community project in 2003 to survey a possible route, obtain the consents of farmers and landowners, engage the support of the two local councils - and seek funding for the project. When the grant money arrived in October 2006, it realised their dream of establishing a path to provide Ayrshire folk with healthy exercise and an opportunity to experience and cherish their own countryside; and to attract a great number of walking visitors.

The project had a simple strategy of linking existing natural beaches and walkable shore terrain by means of field-edge paths, wrack roads, existing farm tracks, promenades and old railway tracks - only short stretches of path have needed to be restored or built. Few would disagree that the Ayrshire path runs long one of the finest panoramic coastlines in the British Isles, crowned with a superb backdrop of the ever-changing profile of Arran.

Appropriately, this bank holiday weekend, Ramblers Scotland — celebrating its 50th year — is encouraging people to get out and enjoy the countryside, and they recommend the Ayrshire Coastal Path as a great place to clock up a few miles.

But back to where I began: The West Highland Way. For some whom I had waved off at Milngavie, it had been relatively easy. For others, not so. Mention Rannoch Moor to one in particular, and he breaks out in a cold sweat!