Lottery players have helped fund a £3m-plus boost to paths in Scotland’s two national parks.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced a grant to help tackle serious erosion on paths in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs parks.
The People and the Mountains project will see 41 upland paths covering more than 124km (77 miles) restored and improved. The £3.28m pot will also train young people with the skills to gain employment and work with schools and volunteers to preserve Scotland’s great outdoors.
The Heritage Lottery Fund uses money raised through the National Lottery, to sustain and transform a wide range of heritage projects involving both landscape and buildings.
An HLF spokesperson said: “From the high mountains and straths of the Cairngorms to the lochs and woodlands of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Scotland’s national parks encompass some of the country’s most iconic landscapes, vital for their contribution to tourism and the wider economy, as well as for the health and social benefits of the millions of people that enjoy them.
“However, their popularity combined with heavy rainfall is damaging the habitat and causing highly visible scarring to the landscape.”
The two national parks are visited annually by almost 5 million people. The Cairngorms have five of the UK’s highest mountains and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs habitats support golden eagle, peregrine, merlin, ptarmigan and mountain ringlet butterflies as well as rare mosses and lichens
Dougie Baird, chief executive of the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust said: “This is fantastic news for the partnership behind this project, and will allow us to develop a project that directly involves the people of Scotland in the care of the priceless mountain assets within both our national parks.”
Cairngorms National Park Authority and Coat board member Gregor Hutcheon said: “The CNPA is immensely proud of the work and efforts of Coat and this significant funding will allow them take forward this innovative and exciting project that will have real benefits for visitors and land managers.
“It’s great to be working together with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Park Authority to help safe guard some of the most iconic mountains in Scotland.”
HLF said heritage grant applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding.
A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “Nature lies at the very heart of what makes Scotland special and its beauty attracts and ever-growing number of walkers, climbers and tourists each year.
“Although this is a significant boon to our tourist economy, we need to ensure that it doesn’t damage the special environment that so many have come to enjoy.
“Our natural heritage offers a rich resource for skills and education so HLF is delighted that this project will offer training to many young people.
“Their newly learned skills will not only make a positive difference to their own lives but will play an important part in looking after the future of Scotland’s magnificent landscapes.”