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Park Talk

28th August 2014

Author: Duncan Bryden

Everywhere you turn in the new cavernous museum store at the Highland Folk Park in Newtonmore an interesting item catches your eye. Those of a certain age can still remember using some of them at home in the kitchen, garden or down on the farm. Others are just downright odd, their purpose unclear to the modern eye. I was pleased to see a collection of blanket boxes with examples very similar to a couple I own. Public tours can be arranged I believe. With free site entry, this has to be a ‘must see’ attraction for every visitor and local person. Board members, some visiting for the first time, were very impressed with what has been achieved at the site.

The National Park Authority Board were having a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of this great heritage collection as part of a day visiting sites where we invested extra money in ‘shovel ready’ projects to help people enjoy the many cultural and natural attractions in the Park. We also had the pleasure of walking the latest section of the Speyside Way heading north west from Aviemore through Kinrara to Dalraddy. Winding through birch trees and giving great views of Torr Alvie and the Duke of Gordon’s monument I have no doubt that this will become a very popular route and I am pleased to report that the new bridges suffered no ill effects in the recent storms. Planned by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust and using Aviemore based contractors, McGowan Outdoor Access, who have done a first rate job on the path sections and bridges, keeps money and jobs local.

Path networks are really important for people’s health and the economy. They pay for themselves many times over. We know for example almost 50% of park visitors take a short stroll while over one third go for a longer walk or hike. First time visitors and visitors from Germany are especially likely to go for a longer walk.

Our tour began in Nethy Bridge looking at how funds have helped improve another section of the Speyside Way through woodland around the games field towards the Duack Burn and refurbish the Community Hall. Walkers and cyclists support important local services like village shops.

I am fortunate enough to travel and work around large parts of rural Scotland. On learning of my Park connections people often make the same point – when they or friends and family have visited the National Park they have found so much to do in the area – people can easily fill a week with different activities. Then they comment on the benefits of being a National Park. I have to agree.