A £17,000 initiative to improve paths alongside the Leader Water and provide more information for walkers about the Borders’ wildlife and history has been unveiled.
The two-year project by Earlson Paths Group was funded by the Fallago wind farm environment fund and Scottish Borders Council.
It was officially unveiled by the 10th Duke of Roxburghe, Guy Innes-Ker.
Besides improving riverside routes to make them easier to negotiate, the paths group has produced information panels and leaflets to advise walkers about the historic buildings and wildlife they can expect to encounter.
A new walking map encourages residents and visitors alike to explore the paths passing by attractions ranging from Smailholm Tower, the William Wallace statue at Bemersyde, Dryburgh Abbey, the Trimontium Stone at Melrose, the triple peaks of the Eildon Hills, Cauldshiels Loch and Bowdenmore Reservoir.
A separate panel and leaflet highlight the bridges across the River Tweed at Leaderfoot.
Later this year, a second leaflet celebrating the heritage of the Leader Water from Earlston to Leaderfoot will be published, and two wildlife information panels currently being produced together with pupils from Earlston Primary School, will also be unveiled.
Ian Gibb, secretary of the paths group, said: “This whole project has taken over two years, and it’s extremely rewarding to see everything finally come together.
“Our volunteers have worked incredibly hard on everything from funding applications and leaflet production to the path improvements, which we carried out ourselves.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved and look forward to seeing walkers from within and outwith the Borders enjoying the benefits of our work.”
Representing the environment fund, the duke said; “The Scottish Borders is filled with wonderful walks and incredible history, and we’re pleased that the Fallago environment fund has been able to support efforts to encourage more people to enjoy and learn about our countryside and heritage.
“The members of Earlston Paths Group obviously have a great love of the area, and it has been very rewarding to be able to work with them to encourage more people to explore and enjoy this beautiful part of the region.”
Leaderdale and Melrose councillors Kevin Drum, Tom Miers and David Parker, in a joint statement, added: “We are delighted to have been able to support Earlston Paths Group with the development of information for visitors through our quality-of-life fund.
“This voluntary group does a huge amount of work in the community, maintaining and improving paths with the support of the council’s outdoor access team, and are to be commended for their dedication and efforts to make these scenic routes even better, which will no doubt attract even more people to the area.”
The paths project has also been supported by Earlston and Melrose community councils, Melrose Paths Group, Borders Forest Trust, Auld Earlston and the Trimontium Trust.