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(Issue 354, July 2008)    Article: Felicity Martin. Photos: Neil Kilpatrick

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The summery weather has been proving very helpful to Phase 3 of the project and construction work is now well underway on the linking section of the loch side trail. Meanwhile, the interpretation structures and artworks are beginning to be installed.

One of the main elements of this phase is the strengthening of the existing earth bund that runs for approximately 1km along the loch side boundary of Grahamstone Turf Farm. Over a period of five weeks in May and June, almost 2,500 tonnes of crushed rock was delivered to Grahamstone and built on to the bund along its entire length.

When this was finished in late June, the contractors began building the new path on top of the significantly more robust bund, which has been designed so that the path remains above water during high loch levels. The dry spell of weather has greatly benefited the first few weeks of this construction phase, with MacLarty Ltd, the principal contractor, making good progress along the loch side.

At the same time, work also commenced to the south of Grahamstone – through Levenmouth Wood to join up with the existing trail from Findatie. Dry weather is the path builder´s friend, so it´s fingers crossed for blue skies over Loch Leven for another few weeks.

TRACKS has given the contract for planting the new reed bed at Carsehall Bog to the RSPB. Graham Craig, who used to own and run the Tay reed beds as a commercial operation (he now manages them for the RSPB purely for conservation benefit), will be responsible for establishing this new one. Once grown, the tall reeds will serve to screen the sight of people using the trail from geese on the loch.

The lack of rain has also made the enhancement work to the main entry point car parks easier. The extension to the Burleigh Sands car park is now open, with just some cosmetic work to complete it. At the Pier, the parking bays and separators between vehicles and pedestrians are in place. Some big standard trees have been planted for shade and to soften the area, and stone dyking is now being done before the stone gateway to the trail is installed.

Creation of the Kirkgate Viewpoint, as described in March´s Kinross newsletter, is now underway. Aaron Lawton, who is managing the art and interpretation aspects of the project, explained the idea behind the viewpoint:

"Until the first phase of the trail was opened, there was no access beyond Kirkgate Park. The views at the end of the Park were limited, but now people can go to the end of the graveyard wall and get panoramic views across the loch. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

"It´s a fantastic view to have so close to Kinross town, so we thought we´d invite people to stop for a while at this spot. Otherwise the temptation is to put your head down and march around the corner without appreciating the view. We´re trying to make the viewpoint an attractive place, with a hedging windbreak, to encourage trail users to linger a bit longer.

"The hedging is beech – the same as being used along the trail in front of Kinross House. It will be higher at the back and lower at the front, so children and wheelchair users can see over it. However, it will be enough to stop the geese from seeing any accompanying dogs, which are what really scares them.

"We are putting in some nice paving, three stone seats and a leaning rail with a viewpoint indicator that will help explain what you can see from that point. David Wilson, who is doing the gateway features, has also designed the seats and viewpoint indicator."

The Kirkgate Viewpoint ground works will soon be finished, though the seating and leaning rail will take a bit longer to arrive. As the space is defined by hedging, it will take a year or so to mature.

An interesting voluntary project is in progress at Mary´s Knowe where a team from the Princes Trust in Perth are clearing the two small ponds adjacent to the trail. An entry path and two dipping platforms to study pond ecology are being constructed. The Princes Trust, the UK´s leading youth charity, helps disadvantaged young people to develop their confidence and skills and to prepare them for work. The Team will be carrying out this work as a project within their 12-week training course.

Now that the school holidays are here, TRACKS is hoping that more children will be able to get out on the trail during the week. The loop from Kirkgate Park to Mary´s Gate and back along the north side of the golf course is ideal for a short walk or bike ride.

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