Some of Scotland's best-loved trails, including the West Highland Way, are being boosted by an investment from NatureScot in order to improve the path network.
NatureScot, Scotlands Nature Agency, states that more than 70 per cent of the Scottish population live within five miles of a Great Trail, a network of 29 long distance routes. With a big increase in people accessing the trails, improving accessibility will only benefit the Scottish population.
Of the 29 Great Trails, five will receive considerable investment. Bridget Jones, recreation and paths manager for NatureScot said that the pandemic has helped to highlight how vital outdoor access is, leading to their eventual funding.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever before how important a nature-rich environment is for our physical and mental wellbeing.
“It’s encouraging that we have seen an increase in the number of people enjoying the outdoors over the past 12 months but at NatureScot we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access these benefits.
“This funding will improve surfaces, remove barriers and increase access on some of our most popular and scenic paths and trails, making it easier for more people to connect with nature and realise all of the many benefits that can bring.”
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£26,000 has been provided to improve the path surface at John Muir Way at Falkirk, with the same sum of money also provided to a community project led by Helensburgh and District Access Trust. The community project focuses on building a new bridge on the Three Lochs Way, improving access along the trail.
Similarly, £20,000 will also benefit both the Clyde Walkway and a partnership project led by St Fillans Community Trust. The Clyde Walkway's investment includes a new wooden boardwalk and the replacement of stiles with self-closing gates, making access easier. St Fillans Community Trust aim to create a local path linking the old railway line between St Fillans and Lochearnhead which will form part of the Cross Scotland Pilgrim Way.
Almost £19,000 is being invested in improvements to the West Highland Way at Keilator as NatureScot work with the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Kenny Auld, Recreation, Access and Health Manager for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “With more people than ever looking for ways to get out and enjoy the outdoors, this funding will provide very welcome improvements both in terms of upgrading existing well-loved routes like the West Highland Way and Three Lochs Way, but also allowing new stretches to be created connecting paths and extending the network of options for people to enjoy around the National Park.”
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