We’re excited to announce that the new accessible underpass at Loch Leven is now open! It’s been a long road, but the work is finally complete, and we hope that this new facility will help all our visitors to explore more of this beautiful area with ease.
First of all, we’d like to say a huge thank you to the funders who made this all possible, particularly the Scottish Government through the Sustrans Scotland Community Link programme, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Gannochy Trust. But many other organisations and individuals donated money towards the underpass. We’d also like to thank everyone who took part in our crowdfunder last year.
A big thank you also goes to our visitors and the local community here at Loch Leven, who put up with months of disruption as the work went on. Thank you so much for your patience with the traffic lights, car park restrictions and trail closures.
What has it all been for?
RSPB Scotland Loch Leven has a busy road running right through its heart: the B9097. For many years, the only safe way to cross this road was an old tunnel with steep steps at both ends. The new underpass replaces this route with gently sloping paths that are suitable for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, cyclists and families with pushchairs. It connects the RSPB visitor centre and car park with loch-side trails and hides that were previously inaccessible to many, and also links the reserve’s facilities to the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, a 13-mile accessible route that circles the entire loch. The new underpass also links the Heritage Trail with the Sleeping Giant path into Fife.
The upshot of all this is that for many people, the underpass will transform a visit to Loch Leven, making it easier to get outdoors and experience the beautiful surroundings, as well as getting closer to nature.
It’s even allowed us to create new habitat at the reserve, with 600 new native trees planted in the landscaped areas next to the new paths, and one hectare of new bumblebee meadow created using 30kg of wildflower seed.
Why has it taken so long?
We had initially hoped that the underpass would open last summer, but this date was revised due to an issue with a mains water pipe. Plans to move the pipe were delayed due to a lack of rainfall and high temperatures in May and June of 2018 causing an issue with waterflow within the system. However, this delay then started to have a knock on effect on other work, as things happened out of sequence. This eventually meant that the contractors had to go back to the drawing board on the design, with a long approval process to get everything signed off.
Thankfully, this didn’t have any cost implications, it just meant that the underpass sat tantalisingly close to completion for several months until all the design issues could be resolved.
The contractors started back on site in late June and were finished by the end of July. Completion was all very quick in the end! We welcome everyone to come along and give the underpass a go.
An official opening celebration will be taking place in October and to mark this occasion properly we will also be having an Open Day with free access to the Wetland Trail and lots of family friendly activities. More information will be available closer to the date, at www.rspb.org.uk/lochleven.
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