Best foot forward for Scotland’s landscapes with major Heritage Lottery investment
Today, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced funding of £720,000 towards the £2.1 million Cairngorms Mountain Heritage project to repair 94kms of eroded mountain paths in the Cairngorms.
The largest continuous area of high ground above 1,000m in Britain, the unique landscape of the Cairngorm National Park attracts 1.4million visitors a year with the even the remotest of paths clocking up 12,000 users annually. There is set to be further pressure on this landscape as the ‘staycation’ becomes a more economic holiday option. This continuous wear along with the harsh climate conditions has caused path braiding resulting in unsightly scars to the landscape, considerable damage to the important habitats.
This four year project will improve 17 upland paths with some of the routes dating as far back as the Middle Ages when they were used as droving tracks moving cattle from Aberdeen to the West of Scotland. Eight traineeships in conservation will bring vital skills to the area and a range of interpretation projects will give schools, volunteers and communities a chance to better understand the magnificent natural heritage on their doorstep.
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland said:
“This is the International Year of Biodiversity, a year when we are encouraging people to connect with nature. The stark beauty of Scotland’s mountain heritage attracts and ever-growing number of walkers, climbers and tourists each year. This is a boon to our significant tourist economy, but we have to balance it with the conservation of our landscape, its flora and its fauna so that people can continue to enjoy it for years to come.”
Danny Alexander MP – whose home is in the village of Aviemore, at the heart of the Cairngorm National Park – said:
“Scotland’s natural landscapes and wildlife are enormously valuable for their own sake, but they are also a major element of our tourist industry. Especially where there is pressure from visitor numbers, as in the Cairngorms, it is important that we are active in maintaining our asset for the future. It is excellent news that the Heritage Lottery Fund is enabling this investment to go ahead. It will enable thousands of people to continue to visit every year without damaging the special environment which they come here to enjoy.”
Dougie Baird, Trust Manager, Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust, commented:
“COAT is absolutely delighted with the award as it will allow us to make a huge difference to the Cairngorm mountains. It is great that so many people come and enjoy our mountains, but it is really important that people also understand that this can create damage, through path erosion, that needs to be managed so that people can experience a pristine mountain environment now, and for future generations. The project will deliver important conservation work, create employment and involve people in the care of some of Scotland’s most valuable heritage assets.”