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Stunning Highland walking route in line for improvements

By Philip Murray

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Ambitious plans to upgrade a stunning long distance route to remove sections that use local roads and improve pedestrian safety are under way following the launch of a £100,000 crowdfunding appeal.

Strathglass Marketing is looking to carry out major improvements to the Affric Kintail Way, which winds for 45 miles from the west coast at Morvich in Kintail and through Glen Affric before ending at Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness.

The route is regarded as one of Scotland’s most picturesque long distance walks, and has proven popular with walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders alike since its launch in 2014.

But despite that popularity the route also makes use of the local A831 road in Glenurquhart, which it follows for 7.5km.

And, with visitor numbers to the area and vehicle levels increasing, Strathglass Marketing is seeking to create “a new and safer off-road path”.

They are already busy on the first phase of construction, but need further funds to complete the entire project and ensure not just greater pedestrian safety, but also help boost the route’s profile.

“The road has an increasing volume of traffic, raising safety concerns by both trail and road users,” said Strathglass Marketing’s Jim McAuley. Our team of unpaid volunteers has been working since 2017 to create a new and safer off-road path for walkers, cyclists and horses.

“The path will benefit users of the Affric Kintail Way and people from Cannich, Glenurquhart and Drumnadrochit with a safer and easier route and improved access to other walking, cycling and riding trails.

“As an off-road connection between these communities, it will encourage walking and greener access; including a new walk for the village of Cannich which has restricted off-road walking. All can use this for exercise and wellbeing.

“There will be an economic benefit to local businesses that are dependent on tourism and have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Funding is in place and work has begun on the first phase of construction to replace 4km of the road section but we require further substantial funds to complete the project.

“Although we have received generous support from several organisations we are still some £100,000 short of what is required and work cannot begin phase two until all funding is in place.

“In these difficult economic times, there are unprecedented demands on funding bodies so we are appealing directly to those who appreciate outdoor access.

“We have been working hard for three years on this project and although we have raised a significant amount of money, finding the final amount has been difficult to source therefore we very much appreciate any support you can give us to complete this project.”

To donate to the project, visit here

For more information about the Way and Strathglass Marketing, visit www.affrickintailway.com

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