Helicopter used to complete section of John Muir Way

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Three bridges and other path materials are being airlifted on to the Kilpatrick Hills by helicopter to complete a new five mile section of the John Muir Way.

Partners, sportscotland, Legacy 2014 Active Places, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forest Enterprise Scotland have funded the £500,000 project to provide an upland experience to the 134 mile coast to coast route from Helensburgh to Dunbar.

Due to be completed in October, the new section of the path will provide a stunning, scenic alternative to the Balloch to Carbeth section of the John Muir Way, which currently runs on a public road and path.

The new section will be slightly shorter and over more challenging terrain as the Kilpatrick Hills are an expansive hill range above Dumbarton and Clydebank.  The existing lower level option is an easier route and will remain open.

Construction is well underway and the first part of the path is complete.  For this next stage of development, three bridges, bags of aggregate, concrete and cement needed to be airlifted and dropped in by helicopter for three full days.

Peter Mitchell, Project Manager, Forest Enterprise Scotland comments: “Airlifting the materials on to the Kilpatricks for this next part in the path’s development is the most economical option given the remote location.  It would have taken us weeks to get the materials in by dump trucks.”

“This is a really exciting development for the John Muir Way.  People enjoy visiting the Kilpatricks for the amazing views, sense of space, rugged beauty and wildlife.  All of these qualities reflect what John Muir was all about, which is why we’re delighted to be part of this project.”  

The new section of the path will provide different types of visitor experiences: a circular route from Edenmill Farm Shop, a longer option from Carbeth to Balloch using the train to return to cars and for coast to coast walkers an upland option.

Stuart Davies, SNH’s Policy and Advice Officer, said: “When the new section opens in October, people will have the option to walk through the Kilpatrick Hills and enjoy a great upland experience within Central Scotland. The present low level route, which makes some use of the West Highland Way, will still be available as an easier option particularly suited to cyclists. 

“The John Muir Way is an easy and enjoyable route for the 3 million people who live in the Central Belt to enjoy the outdoors every day by foot, bicycle, and even by horseback in some places. Walking some or all of the Way is a great way to reduce stress and spend time with your family and friends.”

Louise Martin, Chair of sportscotland said “We are delighted to award funding from the Active Places Fund and the Sports Facility Fund to this wonderful initiative that will take walkers and cyclists up to the Kilpatrick Hills and help them enjoy a wonderful part of the country. 

“sportscotland is committed to providing more and better opportunities for people to take part in sport and physical activity and we view the John Muir Way as a key part of this commitment.”

The John Muir Way was completed in 2014, and boasts some of the most beautiful coastal scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland’s heartland. The route is way-marked with John Muir Way signs, and a website (johnmuirway.org), book, leaflets and map will give people all the information they need to complete all or part of the trail.

The new path extension will deliver on the Scottish Government’s aspirations as part of the Central Scotland Green Network action plan, part of a 40 year initiative with a remit to change the face of Central Scotland.  The vision is to restore and improve the rural and urban landscape of the area, for communities and local businesses to prosper.  The John Muir Way was developed by SNH and was the concept of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership Board.

The new section of the path is due to be complete by October 2015 and is set to officially open in spring 2016.  

Notes to editors

  1. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate.
  2. Tha FCS pàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba; a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìon, a' cumail smachd air, agus a' leudachadh choilltean gus buannachdan a choileanadh dha coimhearsnachdan, dhan eaconamaidh agus ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh sa ghnàth-shìde.
  3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6508 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.