Sir David's son, Jamie Montgomery, commented, "I believe that the Loch Leven Heritage Trail is probably one of the most important developments ever for Kinross-shire. The county's most important physical asset is Loch Leven and yet access to the loch has always been strictly limited, but that is now about to change. TRACKS deserves enormous credit for turning the dream of a pathway around the loch into reality to the benefit of the local community and visitors from further afield."
Phase 1 of the trail stretches from the Kirkgate clockwise around Loch Leven to the Pow Burn. By mid April, this section was complete except for five bridges, some fencing and two short connecting sections, all of which should be finished by early May. In addition, a grass path across Channel Farm will give access from the Pow Burn end to Loch Leven's Larder and the A911.
Work is currently taking place on upgrading the path from Mary's Gate up to Kinross alongside the golf course. The path leading down to the golf course from Sunny Park will also be upgraded. This is a much used access route and will eventually provide a connection to the new High School, via a new bridge from the Milne housing estate currently under construction.
Although Phase 1 of the trail is opening in May, the interpretation signage and artwork will take longer to complete. As an interim measure, a leaflet describing the route is being produced and similar information will appear in the Kinross Newsletter next month. Don't miss the June issue, as we are hoping to include a coloured map of the Phase 1 trail in the centre pages.
The TRACKS team has been strengthened by the addition of Aaron Lawton Associates, who have responsibility for the development of the signage and interpretation artwork for the whole project. An early initiative from them has been the decision to involve a landscape architect in the design of the new gateways at the Watchtower, Burleigh Sands and Findatie gateways.
"One of the first things needed - before artworks are installed - is to improve the environments at those three gateways," says Aaron Lawton. "We will get the landscape architect to look at the boundaries, walls and surfaces. Places like Findatie would look better with trees and shrubs planted, and the drainage upgraded. It could well be that artwork is introduced as part of the landscaping rather than a separate element.
"The boundary between the Kirkgate Park and the entrance to the heritage trail at the Watchtower gateway is considered to be a particularly important landscaping opportunity. We are talking to the Friends of Kirkgate Park to make sure that our work complements the improvements they are making."
Meanwhile, plans are well under way to start Phase 2 of the project in late May. This will keep up the momentum on the project and give the contractors the opportunity to take advantage of the summer weather conditions for trail construction. The second section will run from Vane Farm via Findatie to the west end of Levenmouth Wood, and will involve a new pedestrian bridge over the River Leven Cut. The final phase of the project will be completed in 2008.
Please put the Phase 1 opening in your diary for 6.30pm on Thursday 17 May at the Watchtower gateway in the Kirkgate Park. The TRACKS team hope to see you there!