(Issue 346, October 2007)Article and Photos: Felicity Martin
Progress on Phase 2 of the lochside heritage trail has been going according to plan and the new section of path around the southeast shore of Loch Leven will be open to the public soon. Meantime the first part - from Kinross to Pow Burn - has proved a real attraction for the area this summer and has received much use from holidaymakers and locals alike.
The contractor, Gordon MacLarty of Crieff, has finished the path through Levenmouth Wood and has been putting in a gently sloping all abilities path from the Findatie car park down to the River Leven. His team is just starting the Vane Farm to Findatie section.
A new footbridge will be installed across the River Leven, about 500m downstream of the sluice house, in early October. As part of the interpretation for the project, the bridge will have oak railings with carvings on an industrial heritage theme. Once it is in place, wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs will be able to get down to the loch from Findatie and go across the bridge for a stroll through the wood, where an existing SNH bird hide is going to be opened up.
TRACKS have found the Kinnairds at Findatie Farm and the RSPB at Vane Farm very helpful in taking forward this section of trail. They have also been greatly assisted by the River Leven Trustees, who manage the sluice house and control the level of water in the river for the paper mills and distillery downstream. The construction of the River Leven Cut and establishment of the Trust date from the River Leven Acts of 1827 to 1835, so this is a living part of the history of Loch Leven.
Plans are afoot for a ceremony to open Phase 2 to the public in early November. See the November newsletter for details.
The path itself is only one element of the Loch Leven Heritage Project, which also includes interpretation of the natural and historical heritage of the area, and enhancement of the environment. Much of the interpretation will be delivered through landscaping, designed to lead people into the trail and make significant places more attractive.
David Wilson, who produced stonewall features at Edinburgh airport and Broxden roundabout at the entry into Perth, is coming up with ideas for Kinross Pier, Kirkgate Park, Burleigh Sands and Findatie.
Nick Bowen, of Ian Whyte Associates, has been appointed to manage the landscaping at the main access points to the trail, including the pier car park in Kinross, where Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland, Kinross Estate, Perth & Kinross Council and TRACKS are jointly funding the work.
Nick explained the work he is doing, "Currently the car parks are better known by locals rather than visitors. The landscaping will make the trail more visible and accessible, whilst improving the environmental quality will provide an appropriate setting for the rest of the path.
"At the moment Findatie is dilapidated and easily missed. It's not the sort of place you think of going with the family for an afternoon's leisure. We are trying to address that by tackling the layout, drainage and surroundings, so that it looks more like a visitor destination. We want people to perceive it in the same way as, for instance, a car park at the entrance to a National Trust property.
"At Burleigh Sands, we propose to more than double the capacity of the car park. It is a sensitive location with mature beech and Scots pine, so we plan to fit the extra car parking among the existing trees. It should retain its character and be informal in nature.
"Our approach is to keep things simple, using gravel for parking and native species for hedges and tree planting. We will plant some more trees at Burleigh Sands to vary the age structure of the wood and to make the car park less visible from a distance."
While the Loch Leven Heritage Project steadily moves towards a 2008 conclusion, thought continues to be given to adding an extra section of path from Vane Farm to Kinross to complete the circuit of Loch Leven. TRACKS are very grateful for the support from landowners who gave them permission to look at options for this path. The Feasibility Study into this section has been done and has reported that goose studies need to be conducted over two winters before a route can be negotiated. TRACKS have now gone out to tender for a field naturalist to carry out this work from October to the end of March, in the triangle of fields between the loch and the B9097 Vane Farm road and B996 Kinross road.