A new path connecting communities in Fife and Perth and Kinross over Benarty Hill has been given its official opening.
The one-and-a-half mile stretch across what’s known locally as the ‘Sleeping Giant’ links the Fife Core Path Network to the Loch Leven Heritage Trail via RSPB Scotland’s Loch Leven nature reserve, and will provide new access to Loch Leven for communities like Ballingry and Lochore living closest to the reserve.
A new short all-access trail was also constructed on the nature reserve as part of the project, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the reserve’s woodland and encounter the wildlife that lives there.
To mark the momentous occasion, locals and visitors are being encouraged to discover the new hill trail for themselves this weekend at special events running from 10.30am until 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The path project was carried out by TRACKS for the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, which is administered by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, SITA and the ‘Legacy 2014 XX Commonwealth Games Scotland’ fund, which is administered by Sport Scotland.
Project manager George Lawrie, director of the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, said: “Within the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, we knew that it was vital to create a link between Falkland Palace, Lochore Meadows, Loch Leven and the Lomond and Benarty Hills and to help people get back out on the hills and closer to nature.
“This path has filled that missing link and offers something for everyone whether it’s exercising, the archaeological interest of the lime workings, the views or the wildlife.”
This weekend’s events will give visitors the chance to see chainsaw woodcarving in action as new sculptures created at the start of the new path, discover the wildlife of Loch Leven and find out about the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership’s upcoming projects.
On Sunday at 10.30am, local historian David Munro will be leading a guided walk up the new hill trail.
There are also drop-in activities including mini-beast hunting and den building all weekend and the chance to take part in special summer holiday challenges, which are free all weekend.
Stuart Housden, the RSPB’s director for Scotland, concluded: “We are pleased to have been part of this partnership project which has seen a second community path built on the reserve as well providing an all-access trail where grown-ups and children alike can get up close to some of the woodland wildlife that lives on the reserve.
“We hope it encourages many more local families to come and take advantage of the reserve and discover the nature on their doorsteps.
“We are also eager to continue to work with partners to improve connectivity between this new path and the Loch Leven Heritage Trail.”