The West Highland Way is Scotland's most popular long-distance trail

The West Highland Way is Scotland's most popular long-distance trail

Two long-distance paths in Scotland will benefit from part of a £3m spending boost.

The West Highland Way and Great Glen Way will be improved where they pass through Scotland’s national forestry estate.

The Scottish Government announced Forestry Commission Scotland will spend £750,000 on parts of the West Highland Way long distance trail and associated routes in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park.

The trail is Scotland’s most popular, and leads from Milngavie on the northern fringe of Glasgow, to Fort William.

And the forestry organisation will build more than 11 miles of new path and upgrade surfaces on the Great Glen Way in a £1m project on the popular route, which runs from Fort William to Inverness.

South of the border, the Westminster coalition Government has come in for criticism for starving the Forestry Commission of funds, putting recreational use of England’s public forest estate at risk.

Forestry Commission Scotland said it was spending a total of £3.15m on four projects, including £500,000 for priority work to stabilise the slopes above the busy A82 near Fort William where harvesting of older trees is taking place.

It is also allocating £900,000 towards building refurbishment, to include installing a biomass-based heating system in the forestry office at Aberfoyle to improve its carbon rating, and upgrading workshops at Cairnbaan in West Argyll and at Creebridge in Galloway.

The cash boost is part of the £205m package of measures recently announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney to support jobs and growth in Scotland.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We want more Scots and visitors to enjoy and have access to Scotland’s great outdoors.

“This funding boost for the Forestry Commission Scotland will help towards achieving that and this is very timely given that US broadcaster CNN has in the last week declared Scotland as its recommendation as the number one place to visit next year.

“The projects will not only create new work and jobs but will also have a lasting benefit in supporting green tourism in rural parts of Scotland and encouraging people to get involved in physical activity.

“Nearly half of Scots questioned recently said they regularly enjoy the outdoors. Simple physical activity not only makes people feel better quickly and helps relieve the stresses of everyday life, but it also adds years of quality life.

“This is why the Scottish Government is developing a national walking strategy and this will maximise the very many health benefits to our people arising from our tremendous natural heritage and help realise economic benefits for rural communities.

“With 2013 being the Year of Natural Scotland, there will never be a better time to enjoy Scotland’s great outdoors.”

The Scottish Government claims its programme of capital projects is estimated to support about 2,000 jobs across Scotland in 2013 to 14.

  • grough walked the West Highland Way five years ago. See our account of the journey on our feature page.

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