Plans have been launched today for a new long distance route in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, linking the West Highland Way with the Rob Roy Way. It's due for completion in 2015.
Bruce Crawford MSP recently 'helped' local primary school children christen The Great Trossachs Path, which runs east from Inversnaid on Loch Lomond, past Loch Arklet, Loch Katrine, Ben Venue, Ben Ledi and Loch Venachar to reach Kilmahog near Callander. A 35-mile route aimed at walkers and cyclists, it will form the spine of a wider network of trails throughout The Great Trossachs Forest - a large scale woodland restoration project which covers a huge area between Loch Lomond and Callander. A number of other paths and loops that link from The Great Trossachs Path will also be promoted to visitors, and should cater to walkers of a range of abilities.
Bruce Crawford said:
'The Great Trossachs Forest is an inspiring project and this new path will improve the opportunities for recreation in this stunning area of the National Park for visitors and local people alike. I hope that many more people will come and visit the area as a result of this innovative project and that local businesses will benefit.'
The project has won the support of outdoor writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish.
'The Trossachs is somewhere that I have explored many times' he said. 'It’s often described as the Highlands in miniature, but that doesn’t do the area justice - it definitely has its own irresistible character that is hard to quantify; it’s something that you really have to experience for yourself.'
'Linking the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way is a tantalising idea that might inspire serious walkers to try a new route combining these great trails. But also within The Great Trossachs Forest there’s a tremendous variety of walks through native woodland and onto the open hill.'
A partnership project between Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB Scotland and the Woodland Trust Scotland, The Great Trossachs Forest is one of the most ambitious native woodland regeneration projects to take place in the UK for many years, covering an area about the size of Glasgow. According to Sue Morris, project officer for The Great Trossachs Forest, The Great Trossachs Path is central to a wider vision for the area. The organisation wants to see an increase in the number of National Park visitors to explore the footpath network in the forest.
The new trail has been made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
'Nature lies at the very heart of what makes Scotland special. In the Year of Natural Scotland, we are delighted to support a project which will encourage people of all ages and abilities to visit the Great Trossachs Forest to experience its incredible natural heritage. It is good for the local economy and is also good for the soul.'