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April 23, 2008

Paths funding paves the way to future jobs and enterprise

Culag Community Woodland Trust are celebrating £ ¼ million BIG Lottery windfall towards the upgrading of the paths network across the Little Assynt Estate, near Lochinvar. The trust aims to use the funding to provide training and employment for local people in path building and related rural skills

Culag Community Woodland Trust was delighted to be awarded over £227 thousand pounds from the Big Lottery under its Investing in Communities Programme, for an Access Improvement and Training Project on the Little Assynt Estate, near Lochinver.

The project involves upgrading a waymarked walking route on the Estate that connects with other recently completed paths including the award winning All Abilities Path. This new route provides better access to the historic remains of a Pre and Post Clearance settlements and provides access into wilder land and the chance to see golden eagles, black throated divers on a SSSI designated loch, and other rare flora and fauna. It could also provide a much needed asset for the community on which potential outdoor recreation related business could be developed. Local Scottish Natural Heritage area officer Sue Agnew, said “We are delighted that the Trust has received the backing for this path which will see visitors and locals enjoying and learning about our natural heritage in this special area of Scotland. We are sure that many others will now visit the SSSI.”

But perhaps the key to this project lies in the opportunities it will give to the people of the community. Its key aim is to provide training and employment in path building and related rural skills. Over the 2 year construction period, workers will be able complete an SVQ and therefore gain the skills and confidence to do more path and rural skill related work in the area.

The success of the award has been widely praised. Local MP John Thurso who attended the opening of the all-abilities path highlighted the importance of the project for the area. “This new path initiative by CCWT has a wide scope of ambition including tourism, well being, skills training and care for biodiversity,” he said. “It demonstrates that close partnership between several groups in a small community can make a real difference, and I have no doubt that it will prove to be a valuable community asset.”

Over the next few months, the Trust will be trying to secure match funding so that the project can go ahead – hopefully by early summer. With the support of the Lottery already secured, the rest should be easy…!