Tom Weir's widow Rhona joins toorie-hat wearers at a previous gathering with Tom Weir's statue

Tom Weir's widow Rhona joins toorie-hat wearers at a previous gathering with Tom Weir's statue

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to congregate in a national park this weekend to commemorate one of Scotland’s best loved mountain men.

Visitors are being urged to wear their own red ‘toorie’ hats to the event on Loch Lomondside to mark the opening of a garden in memory of Tom Weir.

The mountain garden, overlooking Balmaha Bay, will be formally opened by John Muir impersonator Lee Stetson, a USA national parks ambassador, and Scots Magazine editor Richard Wight.

The garden is the latest addition to the Tom Weir’s Rest and Statue site.

Organisers of Saturday’s event said: “Tom’s popular red toorie hats are expected to be a common sight on the day, and will be on sale to those who do not have their own ones to bring along and wear with proceeds going to help with the ongoing maintenance of the site.

“Lee Stetson will also be sharing some fascinating short stories on the life and times of John Muir who was an inspirational figure for Tom who was awarded the first ever John Muir Award in Scotland for his lifetime achievement in inspiring so many people to enjoy Scotland’s great outdoors as a result of his talks, writings and broadcasts over 50 years.”

The garden marks the completion of the £130,000 transformation of the former picnic site which has been leased to the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs by Stirling Council.

The garden has been designed by landscape specialist and Scottish Campaign for National Parks chairman, Ross Anderson and developed by locally based Sandy Fraser’s outdoor landscaping team.

The garden features a range of typical mountain plants, as well as a selection of stones and rocks collected near the Highland Boundary Fault which runs through Loch Lomond in close proximity to Balmaha. Feature stones include white quartz from Ben Lomond, and state slabs especially engraved by one of Historic Environment Scotland’s apprentice stonemason Lara Townsend with quotes about the wonders of Loch Lomond that were written by Tom 50 years ago, appearing in articles in the Scots Magazine.

The garden features inscribed stones gathered from surrounding areas

The garden features inscribed stones gathered from surrounding areas

The event will also see the unveiling of the fifth and final storyboard at the statue site, with the other four having been launched earlier this month.

James Fraser, chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “This event is an integral part of a visit by Lee Stetson as part of the centenary celebrations of the US National Parks Service, and also another opportunity to remind everybody of how Tom Weir became Scotland’s most loved mountain man.

“It is also a fitting way to mark the completion of work at the Tom Weir’s Rest site which has become firmly established in a relatively short period of time as one of Loch Lomond’s top visitor attractions with over 100,000 visitors so far.”

Susan Taylor, administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group, said: “This is an event that is the culmination of many years of hard work fundraising by lots of volunteers and ordinary Scots and folk from further afield who are passionate about Tom Weir’s contribution to popularising Scotland’s great outdoors for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.

“We will keep everything crossed for good spring weather and remain optimistic that this will be another great Tom Weir celebration event with a large turnout on the day – in terms of people and Tom’s signature red toorie hats.”

Tom Weir was a prolific writer and broadcaster on Scotland’s great outdoors for more than 50 years and until his death in 2006. He lived for many years with his wife Rhona at Gartocharn at the southern end of Loch Lomond where she was head teacher at the local primary school.

He was best known for his popular TV series Weir’s Way which ran between 1976 and1987 and has been frequently re-run over the past 29 years. He also had a monthly feature in the Scots Magazine for almost 50 years.

The free event will take place at 2pm on Saturday, 30 April. There will be limited catering on site on the day and a bucket collection with the proceeds being used to help maintain the popular Loch Lomondside site.

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