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river walk before and after images showing ancient coach path covered in grass then finally a new paved path through the woodland

Lochgoilhead Community Trust provide all-abilities access to areas of biodiverse habitat

The National Park Green Recovery Fund has helped local communities, land managers, businesses and other partners to recover from the pandemic in a sustainable way.

One such project is Lochgoil Community Trust’s improvement of a path that passes through woodland, alongside open fields and stretches of the River Goil. The Community Trust’s aim was to provide all-abilities access to less well-known and under-appreciated areas of biodiverse habitat around Lochgoilhead.

Having already repaired the original surface of the ancient coach path along its entire 2.5km length with over 500 tonnes of crushed stone, the relatively rough, unfinished surface did not allow for use by cyclists, pushchairs and wheelchair users. A successful application and subsequent award of £15,000 from the National Park Green Recovery Fund has allowed them to resurface this path.

A group of community volunteers supported the project and the contractor, by clearing the path, leaf blowing, delivering communications around the work, and even doing the lunch-run! Due to the dedication of this community, a project that was estimated to take up to ten days was completed in just four days.

This project has contributed to several of their Community Action Plan priorities; to support and develop local initiatives which protect and provide access to the environment, to enhance public spaces to ensure that they are shown to best advantage and are properly maintained, to develop multi-use spaces providing open access for social purposes and businesses, and to develop and organise more social and outdoor events which promote the heritage, culture and natural environment of the area.

And this isn’t the end of the story, in time this path will support a series of nature trails along the banks of the River Goil, creating a network extending to approximately 5.5km. These paths will facilitate recreation and directly reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to enjoy the local area rather than drive elsewhere.

A secondary benefit of these works is that by opening up and maintaining this route, it will enable projects that seek to re-establish and improve wildlife habitats along the River Goil, such as green revetment projects and bankside tree planting.

Tim King from the Lochgoil Community Trust says “Simply put, this path extends our community. It not only provides a low-level, easy access route into nature for walkers and cyclists of all ages and abilities, but it also connects us to a whole network of paths and tracks beyond. The next project phase, which aims to replace a footbridge over the River Goil, will complete a wonderful circular route, extending access to an even more extensive paths network to the East of the River Goil and the Ardgarten Peninsula. Working in partnership with the National Park Authority and landowners, our community achieves so much. We’re very proud of our beautiful River Walk.”

This project demonstrates how an engaged community, with the right support and funding, can massively improve recreation opportunities, biodiversity awareness and ownership of the environment. It may be ‘just’ a path, but we think it’s an excellent example of a relatively simple addition making a huge difference to a community.

Please note that the application deadline has now passed and we are no longer accepting applications for the Green Recovery Fund but please keep checking for future grant funding opportunities.

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