After a significant delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are excited to announce that our project to make nature accessible to more people at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Lomond nature reserve is able to begin. This has been boosted by £242,800 of support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project centres around the creation of a new 1.3km trail, which will link the Shore Wood path to the existing path network and visitor hub for the first time, along with a new and exciting programme of events and activities for visitors. The new path takes visitors on a journey from their arrival point to weave through grassland, across fens, and wind between ancient oak trees before coming to the open waters of the loch. The Wildlife Trail to Loch Lomond will also include viewing areas and interpretation, and is designed to allow for better access for visitors with varying mobility needs as well as buggies and prams, allowing more people to explore and immerse themselves in this incredible place.

Photo 1: The red line indicates the route the new path will take through the site.

The project is a vital part of RSPB Scotland’s mission to inspire people to take action against the nature and climate emergency by providing them with opportunities to experience nature, within their local community and country-wide, first-hand. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to greenspaces for physical and mental wellbeing but also the huge disparities and inequalities across Scotland to such areas.

Photo 2: A boy enjoying the reserve © Helen Pugh (rspbimages.com)

Although the path will be a great addition to the existing visitor experience on site, it is the opportunities this will unlock for nature conservation that make this project more than just a path, and it is this that will make RSPB Loch Lomond shine. Once the path construction is completed, a programme of activities based around it will begin. This will include work with local organisations such as Green Routes, who work with adults with reduced learning capabilities to provide them with skills and qualifications in horticulture; Tullochan who support children and young adults in West Dunbartonshire who live in poverty, are refugees or may have had to deal with drug and alcohol addiction; and Children’s Hospices Across Scotland, who work closely with families from across Scotland who are coping with life limiting conditions.

Photo 3: Green Routes participants enjoying a walk along the trails

We will also be working with Gartocharn Primary School to deliver citizen science activities relating to the incredibly special population of Greenland white-fronted geese found in the area, and both the Vale of Leven Academy and Choices School in Alexandria to build skills and confidence among pupils who don't necessarily fit the mainstream model of education but would benefit from a much more hands-on approach to learning.

Photo 4: Local school children enjoying a bug hunt © David Palmar (photoscot.co.uk)

Finally, there will be new job opportunities created with roles for a new Community Outreach Officer and a Trainee Community & Education Officer.

Works will begin on site in autumn 2021 and should be completed before Christmas. Watch this space for more updates as the project progresses.

Wildlife Trail to Loch Lomond is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to achieve a project that has been a long time in the making, making nature accessible for many more people.

Paula Baker, Site Manager

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