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Walking back to health on new Carr-Bridge path

4th June 2010

The latest path to receive the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) treatment is making a big impact on the people of Carr-Bridge and – in addition – COAT is introducing a regular health walk in the village.

It might only be 1km in length but the Riverside Walk along the River Dulnain from the Old Bridge in the centre of the village to the Gurkha Bridge upstream is giving residents and visitors to Carr-Bridge an accessible, enjoyable riverside walk for the first time, linking in with other paths around the village via Station Road and the Main Road.

The path is proving extremely popular already and caters for most abilities due to its design. It is attracting a wide range of users from families with small children to some of the village’s more elderly residents – and plenty of visitors to Carr-Bridge have been enjoying the path too.

Opening the new path today (Friday 4 June) and enjoying Carr-bridge’s first health walk were two local residents who have overcome recent ill health. Mairi Robertson (Grantown Primary School Head Teacher) is making a remarkable recovery after she collapsed in December last year from an aneurism and Carr-Bridge Community Council member Robert McInnes, who is recovering from cancer. Mairi and Robert live on opposite sides of the River Dulnain with both their homes overlooking the new path.

Speaking at the opening Mairi said: “I’m delighted to be here at the opening of the new path: it’s fantastic for the village and I’ve been using it already! I’m also very delighted that there is to be a regular health walk in Carr-Bridge. It’s definitely something that I will be taking part in. It will help my recovery a great deal and get me out and about with confidence.”

Robert has overseen the construction of the path by local path building firm McGowan Outdoor Access. He added: “There has always been a path of sorts along the riverside but over the years it has become so badly damaged by flooding and there were barriers such as stiles, it virtually made it a no-go-zone. The Carr-Bridge Community Council was keen to see something done about it. The new path is tremendous and I see so many different people using it – it’s really busy and popular with locals and visitors alike.”

Among the works carried out on the Riverside Path include raising the height of the path to avoid future flood damage, fences have been replaced, and there are frequent rest stops with seats and benches, ideal for those embarking on a Health Walk.

Alan Melrose, Health Walks Co-ordinator with COAT commented: “We have been looking to start a Health Walk in Carr-Bridge for some time now and this new path is a great way to kick that initiative off. Health walks are designed to be short, safe and targeted at people who would benefit – both physically and mentally – from increasing their physical activity.”

Local councillor and Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board member Dave Fallows said: “Good quality paths in and around communities that cater for a range of users can make a big impact and we are happy to support projects like this one in Carr-bridge. Good quality path networks can help promote responsible outdoor access and they also encourage people to get out and about improving their health and wellbeing.”

Speaking at the opening Ewan Thain, West Cairngorms Access Project Officer for COAT said: “We are very grateful to all our funders for supporting the Trust and allowing us to improve access to the outdoors for communities throughout the National Park. This path is a great example of what can be achieved.”

Funding for the Riverside Path has come from a variety of sources including COAT, CNPA, Cairngorms Local Action Group EU LEADER, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highland Council and Paths for All.

The Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust is actively seeking more community groups to join as affiliate members so that they can keep up to date with COATS’s work in the west of the National Park. Ewan is keen to hear from community groups in the area and can be contacted through the Trust’s website. More information on health walks can also be found on the COAT website.