UPDATE - Footpaths Project Nears Completion!

Some of you will by now have seen the improvements to the footpaths at Lower Balconie, Kiltearn and along the shore. This work, carried out by the Trust and funded by the Postcode Lottery, Highland Council and the KCC, was completed in May/June this year.

Judging by the comments on the Trust’s Facebook page, the upgrades have been well-received by the walkers who use these paths on a regular basis. The paths have been widened and properly surfaced to now make them suitable for children’s buggies, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

The final parts of the project, due to finish this summer, will see the erection of display panels highlighting the variety of birds, plants and wildlife to be found along the paths. We will also be putting in benches at strategic points on the paths so that people can sit and enjoy the views across the Firth. 

 

 

 

We have prepared a couple of sites for seating along with a site for a picnic table on the shore.  If you are interested in sponsoring a bench as a memorial to a friend or family member who loved to walk these paths, please email the Trust’s secretary at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll send more details.

Finally, if there are any funds remaining at the end of the project the Trust hopes to put these towards improving the remaining footpath running from Balconie Point up to the flyover over the A9,  thus completing the full circular route from the village.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Evanton is fortunate in being located close to the shore of the Cromarty Firth, an important environmental area rich in wildlife with a Site of Special Scientific Interest along the shore. The biodiversity of this area includes a stunning variety of birds, plants, animals and aquatic life that exist along the shoreline and river banks.
Not surprisingly the area is criss-crossed by a network of footpaths offering local walkers and the many tourists and visitors to the area the opportunity to experience the natural environment.
Sadly, some of these footpaths have over the years fallen into serious disrepair. Winter storms and other weather events have severely eroded sections of some of these paths making them difficult to traverse, particularly for older people and the less mobile.
In early 2015, the Trust was asked if it would consider raising funds to repair and restore these paths on behalf of the local community, which recognises they are an important part of the area’s amenities.
Whist several paths in the area needed attention, the Trust decided to initially focus on three of the most popular, part of a network of “core paths” emanating from the historic ruins of the Kiltearn Old Parish Church and providing a circular route close to the Cromarty Firth.  

The three paths are:

  • River Skiach Path (Path 2)
  • Cromarty Shore Path (Path 3)
  • Glebe Path (Path 1)

In February 2016, following discussions with Highland Council staff, the Trust prepared a detailed plan for the Kiltearn Footpaths Project with indicative costs for the repair and re-instatement of these three paths. The Plan was then submitted with applications for funding to local organisations, the Highland Council and larger charities specializing in supporting this type of activity.
Between June and August 2016 the Trust successfully raised £45,000 to carry out the work to reinstate and improve these three paths. With funding from the Postcode Lottery Trust, Kiltearn Community Council, local Windfarm Community Benefit Funds and the Highland Council’s Discretionary Funds.
Work finally commenced in September 2016 on the most urgent which is to repair the collapsed bank on the River Skiach at Lower Balconie. It is likely to be the summer of 2017 before the work across all three paths is completed.

River Skiach Path

This path at Lower Balconie runs alongside the River Skiach which flows into the Cromarty Firth.

Following the collapse of a large tree into the river, creating a blockage, the river shifted the direction of its flow and following winter storms it began to undercut the river bank. With erosion continuing unchecked the whole bank ultimately collapsed into the river, taking the footpath with it. At the same time, a large shingle bank built up on the opposite side of the river and this has had the effect of channelling the river against the weakened bank causing further erosion. Without urgent protection to this bank it would simply continue to erode and start encroaching into the neighbouring land.Discussions were held with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to discuss the best way of addressing the problem and approval was given for river engineering work to remove the root ball of the fallen tree, create a channel to return part of the river flow to its previous course, protect the damaged bank with armour rock and remove the stones and sediment that has formed the large shingle bank in the river. The Trust finally received a license from SEPA to begin the river engineering work although this has to be completed by end of September 2016 as the local Fishery Board have advised that, fish start spawning in the Skiach in mid-October. If it is not completed by then it will have to be postponed until June 2017. Once the river work has been completed, the full length of the path to the footbridge over the Skiach will be cleared of encroaching vegetation, widened, levelled and where necessary, re-surfaced.Work began in August to clear fallen timber and dead trees along the bank of the River Skiach. Removing fallen trees at the point of the collapsed bank will enable contractors to access the site to install the rock armour.

With the support of Evanton Community Woods Company, new trees will be planted along the river walk to replace those removed.

 

Cromarty Shore Path

This Path runs along the shores of the Cromarty Firth, forming a vital part of the core path network. This path is in poor state of repair and is danger of being lost due to erosion from high tides. The sea protection works comprising of rock and building rubble (from the old RAF camp nearby) has over the years been washed back into the Firth, and the path adjacent to the old “bothy” has now broken up. 

The plan is to re-construct the sea defences by pulling the existing protective rock back up against the raised path, importing additional armour rock and levelling/surfacing the path for a length of around 200 metres of the shoreline.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glebe Path (Kiltearn Old Church to Footbridge over the River Skiach)

This Path connects from the public car park at Kiltearn Kirk/Beach to the footbridge  bridge providing a crossing of the River Sgitheach (Skiach).  The path is part of the core path network but at high tides the level of the Cromarty Firth rises and washes out the path making it impassable.

Following discussions with the Church of Scotland, who own land adjacent to the shore, it was agreed to re-route the path inside the glebe, a field belonging to the Church. (The term Glebe is the name for an area of land within an ecclesiastical parish used to support a parish priest.)

The new path will follow the same route but will be the other side of the raised bank which acts as a sea wall here. Two footbridges will be erected at either end of the new path to enable walkers access the more sustainable route