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New west Highlands long-distance path planned

Posted 2 July 2012
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New west Highlands long-distance path planned
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The West Highland way is a famous and popular way to see the 96 miles of scenery stretching from just north of Glasgow via Loch Lomond and Glencoe to the foot of Ben Nevis, but it may soon be joined by another long-distance route in the region.

Tyndrum, one of the villages that the West Highland Way passes through, is set to be the start of the new route, heading from east to west.

Proposed by Scottish National Heritage (SNH) and possibly to be called The Way to the Isles, it would finish at Oban and be 45 miles in length, passing through the villages of Dalmally, Lochawe, Taynuilt and Connel. In the future, it could be extended across to the islands of Mull and Iona.

SNH believes as many as 32,000 people will visit each year and these may not just be those making the trip in walking boots, as it could link the West Highland Way with the Fort William to Oban cycle route.

The organisation's research indicated 3,000 of the annual visitors would walk the entire length of the route, while others would enjoy shorter stretches of it, particularly local people who have been a driving force behind the blueprint.

SNH operations officer Stephen Austin, who is based in Oban, said: "The great thing about this proposal is that it has come from the local community. We're very keen to see the development of more trails across the country to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors and also help generate income to underpin the rural economy."

However, he noted, at this stage no clear route has been identified and this will require the agreement of landowners and farmers to establish a path.

While the new Scottish path is some way off being established, the first part of the English Costal Path has been opened, a 32-mile stretch around Weymouth Bay in Dorset.

This will allow walkers to get a glimpse of the Olympic sailing events taking place in the bay a few weeks from now, as well as exploring newly established areas of access land beside the path.