The Cairngorms National Park Authority has indicated its willingness to take on responsibility for extending the Speyside Way from Aviemore to Newtonmore.
The move came last week’s meeting of the Authority in Laggan, when Board members heard that Scottish Natural Heritage was unable to take forward plans for the extension speedily. But, said Authority Convener Andrew Thin, the CNP is able to help progress the project.
“The Speyside Way provides a recreational opportunity of national significance and quality,” he commented, “offering a rich and varied experience based on local natural and cultural heritage.
“The route also generates social and economic benefits for the areas and communities it passes through – so it contributes to three of the Park’s four aims.”
Mr Thin continued: “An extension to the Speyside Way Other will benefit more communities in Badenoch and Strathspey and I know the people living and working on the route of the planned extension are keen to see it go ahead as quickly as possible.
“I hope that by working with SNH and providing funding for the next stage of the route’s development, CNP will play a major part in moving the project forward quickly.”
The Board agreed to fund, in partnership with SNH and others, the costs of employing a member of staff to carry out the initial work on developing the extension to Newtonmore.
The Speyside Way Long Distance Route was originally designated in 1979 and the first section between Spey Bay and Ballindalloch opened in July 1982. In April 2000, the route’s original designation, from Buckie to Aviemore, opened.
Newtonmore is the southernmost village to meet the criteria for a LDR terminal and the principle of extending the Speyside Way to the village was confirmed in April 2000.
Management of the route is sensitive to the needs of land managers, local communities and the natural heritage.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 takes effect next year, when responsibility for management and maintenance of part of the Speyside Way will fall to the Cairngorms National Park Authority.