Walkers on the West Highland Way approaching Garadhban Forest

Walkers on the West Highland Way approaching Garadhban Forest

Walkers on Scotland’s most popular long-distance path are being warned of diversions while work to clear storm damage takes place.

The clear-up in the Garadhban Forest could take up to a year, affecting both the West Highland Way and Rob Roy Way near Drymen.

Forestry Commission Scotland is urging walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts to take notice of any signs they come across which, it says, as well as advising of diversions, aim to keep people safe and warn them of a significant public safety risk.

Liz Shortall, for the commission’s team in Cowal & Trossachs, said: “The storms earlier in the year have left us with thousands of cubic metres of timber that need to be cleared and we are only part way through the process.

“We’ve managed to clear some of the fallen trees along a diversion route that takes West Highland Way walkers south of the forest and around the danger area within the forest.

“Over the next few weeks we’ll clear the fallen trees from woodland south of the official route before tackling the storm damage north of the route.

“It’s going to be a long haul. We expect to have the clear-up completed by spring 2013, but in the meantime we’ll do our utmost to keep access open.”

The Forestry Commission Scotland said local users and horse-riders can use a blue route through the forest or, as an alternative, horse riders can also use High Corrie from Old Drymen Road until thinning operations take place in autumn 2012

Ms Shortall said visitors should follow the safety signs because ignoring them could potentially be life-threatening. “There will be heavy machinery in use on the site and machine operators may not always be able to see or hear people approaching or passing a site,” she said. “They have even less chance of seeing dogs that are running free.

“Track and road conditions may be hazardous and some of the storm-damaged trees could be unstable, and come down at any minute, and you’d be surprised at how little time there is to get out of the way of tree that is coming down.”

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