Funding secured for Black Parks active travel route

Jonathan Hart on the road by Old Inverlochy Castle which will be completely resurfaced. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

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Regional Transport Partnership HITRANS, working with Jahama Highland Estates, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland Council has secured funding for additional improvements to the Black Parks active travel route north of
Inverlochy.

The route became traffic-free under the ‘Spaces for People’ programme – overseen by
Highland Council and located on Jahama Highland Estate land last year – to create a safe off-road link between Inverlochy and the High School, medical centre, childcare nursery and attractions around Old Inverlochy Castle.

HITRANS has recently secured funding from the Lochaber Town Centre Fund and Transport Scotland to widen and surface the footpath behind the Ben Nevis Hotel, leading from the railway footbridge at Inverlochy to the retail area on the A82. The footpath will be closed for one week from May 17 for this work to be carried out.

The road alongside Old Inverlochy Castle will also be resurfaced, with that section closed for one day during works in the week beginning May 24. A diversion will be in place for pedestrians and cyclists to go through the grounds of Old Inverlochy Castle.

Both financial and management contributions to the wider project have also been made by Historic Environment Scotland and Jahama Highland Estates.

Old Inverlochy Castle is a scheduled monument and as such there has been a need for a great deal of multi- agency working and co-ordination between the Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council, Scottish and Southern Energy, Highland Council Roads Department, The Ben Nevis Hotel and local grazers and fishing clubs.

Jonathan Hart, Liaison Manager for Jahama Highland Estates, part of the GFG Alliance, said: ‘We are delighted to be a major contributor and stakeholder in this very popular and important project.

‘The improvement of walking and cycling links through from Fort William and Inverlochy to be able to reach critical services such as the Police Station, Lochaber High
School, Fort William Health centre, Stramash nursery as well as being able to get to shops and other facilities and across to Corpach is an important development for Fort William.’

With 700 pedestrians and 500 cycles recorded on the busiest days last autumn, the Black Parks route is very popular with both walkers, cyclists and family groups. In April this year the route was used by an average of 450 walkers and 200 cyclists each day.

Patricia Jordan of Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council said: ‘This is good news for everyone in Fort William and the surrounding villages. We welcome the stakeholders working together to ensure that there are active travel routes available to members of the public and visitors alike.’

Later in the year it is hoped to install lighting along the route and improved signage, making it a more attractive and a safer route year-round.