Vital funding awarded for two major path upgrades
TWO community paths in Aberdeenshire have been constructed and restored after obtaining vital funding from Scotland’s walking charity, Paths for All, as part of a £1.5m active travel fund.
Westhill & Elrick Community Council [WECC] have celebrated completing two major projects upgrading the Westhill Orbital Trail after receiving £119,895 in funding last year as part of the Ian Findlay Path Fund.
An allocation of £29,949 was directed towards the construction of an 480m long path which has greatly improved the accessibility for users of path networks in the north of Westhill.
Additionally, £89,910 was allocated to the restoration and upgrading of the main 1.1km east-west through route in Carnie Woods, along with new signage and the creation of resting points. This area, including the woods themselves, suffered significant damage during the 2021 Storm Arwen.
In partnership with Aberdeen City Council who own the woods, the WECC hope that through re-routing and upgrading the path it will service as an alternative for everyday journey and reduced car use within the town.
Gordon Prentice, Treasurer of WECC said: “Paths for All awarded us 70% of project cost for these two paths which has been was pivotal to WECC going ahead.
“Being able to secure such a generous contribution made the task of raising the balance much less formidable.
“The 480m stretch of the Westhill Orbital Trail on the northern edge of Westhill was a very challenging sector
of as the path was very rough and prone to flooding, rendering it virtually unusable and certainly unattractive several times a year. Drainage problems were made worse by serious storm damage from Storms Arwen and Malik in the winter of 2021/22.
“Although the original route had been cleared by volunteers, the prospect of creating a professional finish using volunteers alone was impossible to contemplate. Hence the search for funding.”
The Westhill Orbital Trail is a 12.7km circuit of Westhill connecting a series of roads, tracks and paths on the edge of Westhill with two new links at the Westhill Golf Club and Lawsondale Woods, with another now at Carnie Woods.
The Ian Findlay Path Fund was first announced in March 2022 as part of the Scottish Government’s record investment for active travel. They are committed to investing at least £320million or 10% of the transport budget for walking, wheeling and cycling by 2024-25.
Since the fund’s launch in August 2022, 24 projects across 15 local authority areas in Scotland have received funding totalling nearly £1.3m.
Community groups, third sector organisations and charities wanting to improve the accessibility of their local path networks are eligible to apply for between £10,000 to £100,000 in what will be its second year of operation.
Kevin Lafferty, CEO of Paths for All said “We’re pleased to see such great results from the first round of funding, and the impact it is already having in those communities.
“The first year of funding has revealed a wide range of exciting projects which demonstrate the innovation and dedication of applicant groups, encouraging active travel by improving path networks within their local communities.
“The Westhill upgrade showcases the dedication of local communities to promote active travel and improve accessibility. We look forward to the progress of future projects and welcome applications for the second round of the Ian Findlay Path Fund.”
The Ian Findlay Path Fund is supported by Transport Scotland. It was established in memory of Ian Findlay CBE, the late Chief Officer of Paths for All, and it continues to support local initiatives aimed at enhancing path networks and fostering active travel.
Community groups interested in applying for the second round of funding can reach out to the Ian Findlay Path Fund team at [email protected].