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New village path set to improve safety for school children and reduce carbon emissions

22nd May 2009

MSP Mike Rumbles has opened a new path in the Cairngorms National Park which will make walking to school safer for children and reduce car use by their parents.

The new path, which links Roughpark and Bellabeg via the school in Strathdon, means youngsters attending the village primary school do not have to walk along a main road.

The path also promotes reduced car use to school with the aim of reducing carbon emissions at a local community level.

Mr Rumbles, MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said: “This is an excellent initiative. Anything we can do to encourage young people to walk to school safely is to be encouraged. I congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.”

The project, which cost £41,675 in total, was developed by Cairngorms Outdoors Access Trust (COAT) for the direct benefit of Strathdon Primary School with support from Candacraig Estate. The wider community will also benefit from improved and increased access infrastructure.

The Scottish Government and the European Community (Cairngorms Local Action Group) LEADER 2007 – 2013 Programme awarded £15,075 to the project and £25,000 came from the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF). Additional funds from Scottish Natural Heritage enabled sections of existing path to be upgraded further.

The CCF is designed to support communities to take direct action on climate change by reducing their carbon emissions. Prior to upgrading the path the only route to school was on the main road, which meant parents would rather take their children there by car than on foot.

Eric Baird, the CNPA’s deputy convener, said: “This path offers the young folk of Strathdon a safe and interesting route to and from school. We all need to reduce our carbon footprint: the pupils will be setting us a good example.

“It’s also a demonstration of effective partnership working between the local estate, the community, and the funding agencies: the Cairngorms National Park Authority is pleased to have helped bring this about.”

As a child in the 1920s Bill Davidson, a resident of Roughpark, walked to Strathdon School from Roughpark. Mr Davidson, who cut a ribbon marking the opening with a primary school pupil, is hoping that future generations will again follow in his footsteps.

Lilian Field, the school’s head teacher, said: “There are so many interesting things to look at as you walk along the path, it is a great educational resource. The school have been using the path regularly since it was completed as a safe route to walk down to the Lonach Park where we have been playing cricket this term.”

The upgrading of the path and Historic Scotland’s consent to put a board walk through a gap in the archaeological feature known as the Doune Motte now allows improved access for walkers, cyclists, and pushchairs.

Those less able will be additional beneficiaries of the path; a recent visit and assessment from the Deeside Access Panel confirmed that the path from Bellabeg, the boardwalk, bridge and 300m section of path leading to a picnic site can be used by people of all abilities.