Ross-shire Villages linked once more
The villages of Strathpeffer and Jamestown now have a path connecting them after an absence of many years. The right of way to the old church through Blackmuir Woods fell into disuse when the church was abandoned after 1947. For many years the people of Jamestown have being wanting a link re-established that meant they could walk or cycle to the facilities of Strathpeffer without going on the road. There was lobbying of every path project since the 1980’s to ensure inclusion on the Core Paths Plan.
The road, only recently given a 40mph limit, was considered unsafe for walking with a number of bends reducing visibility. The owner of the old church, Major Whitelaw was not convinced of the demand for the path and saw no incentive to permit the route through what is his garden. However, this changed when he submitted a planning application for the old church. The Highland Council’s Access Officer, Phil Waite, ensured that a condition was attached to re-gain access to the woods. Major Whitelaw then saw the benefit of gifting the strip of land to the Forestry Commission and early completion of the path became possible.
At roughly the same time, Strathpeffer Community Council had approached the Access Officer for funding from The Highland Council’s Core Path Implementation Programme (HCPIP) and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme. With the full route now looking likely the promise of funding was given. The HCPIP was developed to work with communities by providing 100% grant on a core path in their area utilising the experience of the Council Access Officer as Project Manager in return for the community being responsible for minor maintenance in future.
Work on this woodland path was completed in October before legal matters were finally resolved at the old church in December. There was just enough time to get the path contractors, MM Millers back and the Forestry Commission staff to do the fence before the Christmas holidays. Now the people of Jamestown have a more enjoyable way of getting into Strathpeffer for the festivities or woodland walks to burn off any seasonal excess and for the foreseeable future of course.
Anyone willing to help in the upkeep of the path should contact John.Wombell@btinternet.com