(Issue 340, April 2007) The pictures show the new trail between Burleigh Sands and Pow Burn.
During March, good progress has been made in finishing off the trail section between Mary's Gate and the Pow Burn, a distance of nearly 4 kilometres. However, the higher than average rainfall so far this year has raised the level of the loch and the surrounding water table. At the time of writing, the section of shore between Kinross Boathouse and Mary's Gate is too waterlogged to take in the trail building machinery. TRACKS hope that it will be possible to complete this work by the end of April and to open Phase 1 of the path soon after.
The path being constructed in this area is expected to be the most popular part of the trail. Thanks to the generosity of the Kinross Estate Company, it will open up public access to a new part of the shore. In addition to accessing the main heritage trail, people will be able to do a circular walk from Kinross, following the trail from Kirkgate Park past the front of Kinross House to Mary's Gate, turning left up the side of the golf course and rejoining the main road at the north end of the town. The contractor, J M Dewar, will upgrade the path that runs along the north side of the golf course from Mary's Gate to Sunnypark.
A further enhancement of the trail between the Boathouse and Mary's Gate is the new bird hide that has been installed by TRACKS in a large reed bed on the lochside. This is a particularly attractive site in a peaceful location with fine views over the loch to Bishop Hill and Loch Leven castle. It is likely to be popular with both birdwatchers and walkers.
Upgrading the path from Mary's Gate to the bridge over the Queich before Burleigh Sands has been another element of Phase 1. TRACKS apologises to users who were excluded from this section while the work was being done.
An exciting development is happening at the northeast end of the Phase 1 path. Robin and Emma Niven of Channel Farm, home of Loch Leven's Larder, are creating a nature trail that will link to the Loch Leven Heritage Trail. That means that when Phase 1 opens, users won't come to a dead end at Pow Burn, but will be able to continue across the fields to the A911. This opens up a variety of options: stop for refreshments, catch a bus back to Kinross, or keep going into the Lomond Hills or up on to the rights of way that skirt the hills.
Robin Niven says, "We plan to integrate with the Loch Leven Heritage Project by providing a spoke from the main trail. We are doing this by laying a grass path around our lower fields and linking it to the lochside trail.
"A lot of our customers want something more to do when they visit Loch Leven's Larder. People seem to appreciate being able to look around a working farm - it gives them a link to the land. On our nature trail they will see food we serve in the restaurant being grown as they walk through a variety of wildlife habitats around the arable fields. We are steadily enhancing these habitats, for instance by sowing species-rich grassland and putting in hedgehog and bird nesting boxes."
Although Phase 1 is still being completed, the project's steering group are already looking ahead to the work to follow. They recently reviewed preliminary designs for a bridge over the River Leven at Findatie. The bridge, which will have a span of about 25 metres, will be built as a part of Phase 2.
TRACKS project officer Janet Croft would like to thank all the volunteers who gave their time and input to the two survey days she had planned for 21 and 25 March. The purpose of the initial survey at Burleigh Sands was to measure usage before the new sections of path open.
Another survey is planned for August (when it should be warmer!) and Janet is keen to hear from anyone who can assist for a couple of half days. The proposed days are Wednesday 15 August and Sunday 19 August. Give her a ring on 01577 864105 to volunteer or find out more.