30 November 2023
The National Trust for Scotland has today announced that it is creating a new route into the Glencoe valley, to help manage visitor impact and promote sustainable tourism.
The new Glencoe ‘Greenway’ will be a shared-use path enabling local people and visitors to walk, cycle or wheel into the heart of the glen from the west without having to make the journey via the narrow verge of the busy A82 trunk road.
The project will see the National Trust for Scotland, which cares for Glencoe National Nature Reserve (NNR), construct 2km of new ‘all-ability’ pathway from its Glencoe Visitor Centre to the An Torr and Signal Rock car park, where it will connect with existing paths into the glen. NTS will also upgrade 2km of the existing pathway from the Visitor Centre towards Glencoe village, through National Trust for Scotland and Forest & Land Scotland woodlands, opening up access to a wider range of users.
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The Greenway will complete the circular traffic-free ‘Glencoe Orbital Recreation Trail’ between Glencoe village, the National Trust for Scotland’s Glencoe Visitor Centre and the old road to Glencoe village via the Clachaig Inn, a long-held aspiration of the community, the National Trust for Scotland and other local stakeholders.
The work is part of a wider programme to create 'sensitive and sustainable' improvements to visitor facilities in Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most internationally renowned and busy National Nature Reserves (NNRs).
Emily Bryce, the National Trust for Scotland’s Operations Manager at Glencoe, commented:“Glencoe’s natural beauty and cultural history attract visitors from across the globe and over 2 million vehicles a year drive this 10-mile stretch through the glen. Such a volume of traffic inevitably places pressure on the landscape, as well as the locals who live here year-round.
“In 2020, the National Trust for Scotland conducted a public survey, which was completed by over 3,000 respondents. We asked for views on how to reduce challenges with parking capacity in Glencoe NNR and there was resounding support (over nine out of ten people) for the suggestion to ‘enable people to walk or bike into the heart of glen with improved footpaths’. So, that’s exactly what we are aiming to do with the Glencoe Greenway.
“For the first time, we’re making it possible for people to walk, cycle, push a buggy or take a wheelchair on a traffic-free path into Glencoe from the east. This will enable locals and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, nature, beauty and heritage of this part of the glen, knowing they are also helping to care for it by enjoying it more sustainably.”
The new path has been designed to minimise its visual impact on Glencoe’s scenic landscape. It will follow the route of the A82, separated from the road by hedging and other vegetation, with a bound gravel surface in the same material as the glen’s existing low-level path network. There will be rest benches along the route and interpretation at the archaeological site of the long-lost historic settlement of Achnacon, one of the townships which gave inspiration for the 17th-century turf and creel house reconstruction at the Trust’s Glencoe Visitor Centre.
Local Oban-based contractor, McLarens will be carrying out the works on the Glencoe Greenway route in stages from now until the end of March, with final surface finishing taking place in late spring 2024. To enable construction to take place safely, from 20 November, the existing path from Glencoe Visitor Centre towards Glencoe village will be closed for approximately eight weeks at the point where it leaves the A82 pavement and enters woodland. The project has been programmed outside the busy tourist season to minimise disruption to visitors and local people.
(Report and images courtesy National Trust for Scotland)