SECTIONS of the West Highland Way at Loch Lomond have been earmarked for an upgrade later this year.
A £750,000 project has secured funding from a Scottish Government’s ‘shovel ready’ fund and is due to commence in August.
This is part of a wider, path upgrade project being carried out in partnership with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.
One key element of the project will be to upgrade an unsafe section of the original shoreline route at Ptarmigan.
Liz Shortall, for the Commission’s team in the area, said: “This is a major and long needed upgrade of some sections of the route that will make it an even more attractive and enjoyable proposition for visitors and walkers.
“Making it more user friendly and improving the quality of the experience will encourage more people to speak positively about their visit, which will in turn bring more people to the route.
“This will help to secure its long-term future and be good for tourism and for those businesses catering for visitors and walkers.
“It will also make it easier for us to carry out harvesting operations there over the next five to ten years.
“These will allow us to restore the site to native woodland and improve the forest landscape, structure and habitats. It will also protect the West Highland way from being damaged by windblow.”
The project will include 5.0 km of upgrade to existing path at Ptarmigan, two new re-aligned sections and upgrades to the steps linking Balmaha to Conic hill and the steps at Strath Cashel. Work at Strath Cashel is already underway.
“We’ll use a combination of machine and hand-built techniques and will do what we can in the way of enabling works that will help to minimise the impact of the works on the surrounding environment.
“We’ll take care of any new way-marking required but at the end of this we’ll have a viable diversion that will take people away from the forest road to facilitate harvesting operations.”
Mairi Bell, Tourism Manager for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: “The National Park has already made substantial investment and improvements to Conic Hill and sections of the West Highland Way and we’re pleased that further work will be carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland.
The importance the West Highland Way has in terms of economic and tourism benefits is clearly recognised by both partners and Scottish Government funding.
“We have over 80,000 people walking the route every year and these upgrades will enhance what is already a spectacular experience.”
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