New path connects communities in Fife and Perth & Kinross over Benarty Hill, locally known as the Sleeping Giant
The official opening of a new path linking Loch Leven with Fife took place today and there's a weekend of celebration planned to help visitors explore the new trail.
The new path section is approximately one and a half miles long and links the Fife Core Path Network to the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, via RSPB Scotland's Loch Leven nature reserve. It provides access to the natural riches of Loch Leven, which is a National Nature Reserve, for communities in West Fife, especially Ballingry and Lochore, which are the closest communities to the reserve.
George Lawrie, Director of Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership and Project Manager for this Project, said: "Within the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, we knew that it was vital to create a link between Falkland Palace, Lochore Meadows, Loch Leven and the Lomond and Benarty Hills and to help people get back out on the hills and closer to nature. This path has filled that missing link and offers something for everyone whether it's exercising, the archaeological interest of the lime workings, the views or the wildlife."
A new short (350m) all-access trail was also constructed on RSPB Scotland's nature reserve as part of the project allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the reserve's woodland and encounter the wildlife that lives there.
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: "We are pleased to have been part of this partnership project which has seen a second community path built on the reserve as well providing an all-access trail where grown-ups and children alike can get up close to some of the woodland wildlife that lives on the reserve. We hope it encourages many more local families to come and take advantage of the reserve and discover the nature on their doorsteps. We are also eager to continue to work with partners to improve connectivity between this new path and the Loch Leven Heritage Trail".
The official opening took place today at 12.30pm and was attended by Alex Rowley MSP, member for Mid Scotland and Fife and Scottish Labour deputy leader. Members of the Perth and Kinross Council and Benarty and Portmoak Community Councils also attended along with local landowners and neighbours and representatives from SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and project partners among others.
The path project was carried out by TRACKS for the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, which is administered by the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust. It was funded by HLF, SITA and the 'Legacy 2014 XX Commonwealth Games Scotland' fund, which is administered by Sport Scotland.
Commenting on the opening of new path, Councillor Willie Robertson chair of TRACKS said, "I am delighted to see the creation of this important link in the Kinross-shire and Fife path network. It is as a result of excellent partnership working between the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, RSPB Scotland, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and TRACKS. We live in a beautiful part of Scotland and this new path will allow more people to enjoy it whilst at the same time improving their health and their understanding and appreciation of our environment. TRACKS are now looking forward to assisting with the creation of a new underpass under the B9097 which will give much better access from the LLHT to RSPB Scotland Loch Leven and the path onwards to Lochore Meadows."
Locals and visitors are encouraged to discover the new hill trail for themselves at a weekend celebration on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July from 10.30 am until 3 pm. There will be opportunities to see chainsaw woodcarving in action as new sculptures are created at the start of the new path, discover the wildlife of Loch Leven and find out about the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership's upcoming projects. On Sunday morning at 10.30 am local historian David Munro will be leading a guided walk up the new hill trail, places are limited and should be booked through the LLLP website.
From the RSPB Scotland visitor centre the path climbs steeply through pretty woodland into the heather-clad hill tops and provides the best views of the Loch and the Ochil and Lomond Hills before it leaves RSPB Scotland's reserve after about a mile.
There are also drop-in activities including mini-beast hunting and den building all weekend and the chance to take part in special summer holiday challenges, which are free all weekend. For more information about these family activities call 01577 862355 or email email@example.com.