EARLSTON celebrates the opening of its Diamond Jubilee Path later this month, writes Sally Gillespie.
Vice Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale Sir Michael Strang Steel will launch the £28,000 4km of new path on Sunday, March 24.
Earlston Path Group are meanwhile putting the finishing touches to the route, laying down 30 tons of gravel, erecting signs and taking delivery of an otter and salmon chainsaw-carved bench to be placed along the path.
Group treasurer David Kennedy said: “It’s a massive community benefit with potential for getting people to come into part of the countryside which is stunning and very peaceful and full of wildlife. There are otters, kingfishers, salmon and badgers [along the new path]. It’s an organic country path.”
Money for the new path came from Landfill Tax, Scottish Borders Council’s community grant scheme and Jubilee Fund, Forestry Scotland and Paths for All as well as Redpath and Earlston communities.
The work has been carried out by volunteers and contractors.
Mr Kennedy said: “It has been a much more difficult project than we first thought. It’s been taxing to get the funding in place and then everything proved to more expensive because prices had gone up and contractors had to come back to jobs several times because of the weather.”
The new route goes from near Cowdenknowes House, past Redpath to Leaderfoot, and includes short sections of old Victorian paths near Redpath and at Cowdenknowes House, where the section is known as Lady’s Walk.
The path joins up with the 5km Leader Water Path the group opened two years ago.
Mr Kennedy said: “It will make a stunning circuit, fit for family outings, organised races, ramblers walks, office outings, wildlife rambles, school sponsored walks, bike club circuits, and the like.”
The group hope that the King, Queen, Prince and Princess of the village’s Jubilee Festival from Earlston’s primary and high schools will also help launch the new path.
The volunteers got together in 2005 with the aim of increasing the number of paths around the village.
Mr Kennedy said: “We wanted to improve the network of paths around Earlston, improve the ones that were there and the rights of way, and make surfaced footpaths the disabled and those with prams could use and we’ve done all this now.”
Another long-term project is restoring the railway line from Earlston to Gordon and Greenlaw.
“It would be an ideal long-distance link. We hope to achieve that one day, ” said Mr Kennedy.
Another long-term goal is to restore the old footbridge between Redpath and Drygrange which was swept away in floods last year.