Local residents are backing plans for a new long-distance trail linked to the West Highland Way.
The route, tentatively dubbed the Way to the Isles, would run from Tyndrum to Oban, with potential for a future extension to Mull and Iona.
Government advisory body Scottish Natural Heritage estimates 3,000 people could walk the whole 72km (45-mile) route annually, with a total of 32,000 also using it for day trips, dog walking and other recreational activities. The route would link with the Oban to Fort William cycle route.
A report estimates it would bring £1m a year to the local economy. The study was funded by SNH, in response to interest from the local community.
Stephen Austin, SNH operations officer based in Oban said: “The great thing about this proposal is that it has come from the local community.
“We’re very keen to see the development of more trails across the country to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors and also help generate income to underpin the rural economy.
“However this proposal is still at a very early stage. A route has yet to be identified and this will only be done with the agreement and support of farmers and landowners, but this report helps highlight the potential benefits of the path, as well as the need to get the promotion and marketing right.
“We’re setting up a steering group to take the project forward. We hope those living and working in the area will be interested in taking part, particularly from farmers and land managers, who have a vital role to play in its development.”
Kenny Harris from Taynuilt, who came up with the idea for the route, added: “I’m delighted to hear that the proposed path is moving on a little further.
“I have always thought it could benefit local businesses if it goes ahead, particularly those along the route. I hope it also encourages new business in the area and brings health benefits by helping locals and visitors alike to get out in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.”
The route would pass through the villages of Dalmally, Lochawe, Taynuilt and Connel.
SNH said there is potential for existing businesses to adapt or expand what they offer in accommodation, shopping, food and drink and there may be opportunities for farmers and land managers to provide food, accommodation and produce; offer volunteering opportunities and carry out minor maintenance on the route.
It added circular paths and links to the main villages and local visitor attractions are important to encourage people to use the path and spend money locally. The full report is on the SNH website.