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Torchlight procession marks start of £1.9m mountains upgrade

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Walkers gathered at some of Scotland’s most spectacular summits this weekend to celebrate the launch of a £1.9 million footpaths project.

Around 150 people simultaneously climbed Ben Lawers at Loch Tay, Goatfell – the highest point on the Isle of Arran – and Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro, on Saturday evening.

They used flaming torches to create glowing beacons at each site.

The event was held to mark a five-year programme of investment announced by the National Trust of Scotland, to repair and upgrade 273 miles of upland walking routes.

The conservation charity has been working on a strategy to protect treasured and protected areas throughout the country.

The new programme will focus on 10 locations. As well as the three sites involved in Saturday’s torchlight challenge, improvements will be carried out at Glencoe, Grey Mare’s Trail, West Affric, Kintail, Mar Lodge Estate, St Abb’s Head and Torriden.

Bob Brown, upland path manager for the trust, said: “As a charity wholly funded by our members and supporters, we rely on campaigns such as the Torchlight Challenge and the Footpath Fund to help maintain and preserve our sensitive mountain environment.

“Paths not only make the mountains accessible, but they protect the wider area too.”

He said: “When paths get in to a bad state of repair, people avoid the damaged sections. This leads to ‘path creep’ as people walk on the vegetation either side, widening the paths and damaging the surrounding area.”

Mr Brown added: “Mountain path work is expensive and as a charity, we rely on the Footpath Fund to allow us to maintain and restore the paths hillwalkers love about Scotland.”

The near £2 million campaign begins on Tuesday, with work on Goatfell.

Mark Bishop, director of customer and cause at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Our new footpath programme is our most ambitious yet and, with the help of our loyal supporters, we will be able to implement crucial repairs and maintenance to guarantee the future of Scotland’s most stunning and significant landscapes.”

He said: “The torchlight challenge teams have got us off to a flying start with their fundraising efforts, all of which will play a vital role in protecting and preserving Scotland’s treasured sights and landscapes.”



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