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Completion of the first phase of the coastal path around Steinish has been warmly welcomed.
Residents and campaigners have hailed the new walkway as ‘brilliant’ and ‘absolutely wonderful’ with members of the community already making good use of the new disabled-access walkway along the side of the estuary.
Works were completed in late March, ahead of the equinoctial spring tides, which saw the sea level rise up close to the level of the new path on the outskirts of Stornoway.
The new path starts from Simon’s Road, at a location 50 yards before the entrance to the Auction Mart, and heads down towards the sea and along the estuary – where there is a designated SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) area and sinking sands – towards the Steinish Road end.
It measures 850 metres long and 1.2 metres wide, with wider areas for passing and resting, and has a chipped surface that allows for easy wheelchair and buggy access. A bridge made of recycled greenheart wood – taken from old piers – has been installed in the middle of it and six benches made of recycled plastic have also been put in place.
The work was made possible after Mossend Residents Association secured more than £42,000 from the Crown Estate Coastal Communities Fund, with the help of community wind farm Point and Sandwick Trust’s honorary president Angus McCormack, in his capacity as a local councillor.
A second phase is planned, which will involve extending the track around the shore side of Steinish village and up around the far side of the village to near the airport.
For now, though, Michael Smith and Duncan Mackay from Mossend Residents Association were happy to take a turn along the new path – along with Michael’s dog, Molly – for the cameras.
Michael, who is also on Steinish Community Development Trust, undertook much of the background work required to get the project to the planning stage – and said the end result was ‘great’.
‘It’s a really nice coastal path, easy walking or cycling distance from the town and then you are into a nice undeveloped area on the coast, with a SSSI right beside you,’ he added.
Duncan Mackay, chairman of Mossend Residents Association and the local Fideach Angling Club, said: ‘Even in the short period we were there – about 15 minutes – a total of eight people passed us on that path and all were complimentary about it.
‘It’s been a long haul to get here but it’s a good thing and when it’s extended it will be better still.’
The Steinish Circular Coastal Trail is being developed in partnership with the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path and supported by Point and Sandwick Trust’s community development team.
As well as having the input from honorary president Angus McCormack, the Steinish path project has also been supported by Alasdair Nicholson, Point and Sandwick Trust’s community consultant, who secured £46,182 from the Scottish Government’s Islands Green Recovery Programme to fund phase two.
As well as allowing completion of the Steinish Circular Coastal Trail, that money will also support the installation of benches along the whole of the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path – a 40km route around the Point peninsula.
The area is well known for its bird life and the Steinish path project has been supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. Grass seed will be sown and wild flowers planted in order to landscape the path borders.