THE number of visitors to Mugdock Country Park is expected to break the 60,000 barrier by the end of the year - for the third time only during the park’s history.
Despite wet weather this year the park attracted thousands of people and it’s believed that this is down to several factors including the global recession which means that many people are taking advantage of ‘free entry’ attractions.
However, while visitor numbers were up during the last two years sales for traders have been difficult with less impulse buys and fewer purchases of luxury goods.
A milder winter made it easier for people to get to the park - long periods of extreme snow and ice in the previous two winters made it difficult or impossible for motorists to access some of the roads and other access routes.
Additional events for children at Easter (April) and autumn (October) has also encouraged more families to visit and the new Craigend Fort play park and woodland walk which opened early summer was ‘overwhelmingly received’ - the previous park was over 20 years old and beyond repair with many items becoming unsafe.
The country park has, however, also received complaints from people about muddy underfoot conditions and discourteous horse riders and cyclists.
A spokesperson said: “Due to the high volume of users it would be surprising if there were not concerns being raised.
“There is a perception from walkers that countryside trails are for them, cyclists believe they have rights of access too, horse riders the same.
“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, after the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, promotes the responsible use of countryside by all users and does not distinguish between them. The dilemma is the interpretation of ‘responsible use’.
“Extremely wet summers recently means that many of the trails have not been able to dry and recover.
“We will have to consider capital bids in future to finance new engineered paths in these damaged and delicate moorlands.
“High and increasing visitor volume each year will result in existing and new path improvements.”
The park has been advised not to apply for planning permission to extend the Mugdock Makkers premises after a meeting with planners from Stirling council and Historic Scotland. They were told that the application would not be looked upon favourably as the current structure is ‘B listed’ and concerns had been raised about the alteration to the building’s facade.
MUGDOCK VISITOR CENTRE . . . the park attracts thousands of people each year.