The Cowal Way, a 57 mile long distance tourism path located in Argyll, will receive the prestigious Scotland’s Great Trail award at a ceremony in Glendaruel on Saturday 22nd October.
The Cowal Way is the most recent Long Distance Route (LDR) to receive this accolade, joining others including the iconic West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. To receive this award LDR’s must fulfil a list of quality criteria, including for example, having a clearly defined path, adequate waymarking & signage in place, and an online presence with detailed information to allow various types of visitors to plan a visit.
Jim McLuckie, the creator of the Cowal Way and a director of Colintraive & Glendaruel Development Trust (who manage the path) said:
“The Cowal Way was established in 2000 to help create employment and to boost the local economy. In the last two years, thanks to financial support from the Coastal Communities Fund, we have been able to invest almost half a million pounds in the project. The majority of funds have been allocated to improving the path infrastructure – including clearing vegetation, creating drainage, building timber walkways and bridges, installing multi-user gates, and also laying stone chips along parts of the path. We have also invested in a new brand identity, a much improved website, social media campaigns, exhibiting at key shows, launching a new, innovative and free mobile app, and updating our Guide Book. We also have people and cycle counters in place, to help us to measure path usage. This season we have seen significant increases of all types of users, including locals, UK and overseas visitors, walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders.”
“With our improvement programme almost complete, we now believe we have one of the best LDR’s in Scotland, if not Europe! We call Cowal Way “Scotland in 57 miles miles” because visitors can experience the best Scotland has to offer. This includes stunning West Coast scenery, abundant wildlife, engaging heritage, and very friendly locals. From Portavadie on Loch Fyne to Inveruglas at Loch Lomond, the path goes through the key communities of Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Strachur, Lochgoilhead and Arrochar – bringing a much needed economic boost to this fragile but beautiful area. The walking terrain constantly changes and includes beaches, shorelines, forest paths, forest roads, hillsides and minor roads.”
Scottish Natural Heritage is the custodians for Scotland’s Great Trails. Ron McCraw, Project Manager for LDR’s said “we are delighted to be able to give this award to the Cowal Way. We have been very impressed with the recent improvements. This is another excellent outdoor tourism asset for Scotland, and we hope this award helps to attract more visitors to Cowal over the coming years.”
The majority of funding for this community project has been kindly provided by the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF), which is administered by the Big Lottery in Scotland with awards decided by an Independent Panel. The aim of this programme is to encourage the economic development of UK coastal communities by giving funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs. Stephen Leitch, the Glasgow-based funding officer for CCF said “the Cowal Way demonstrates a positive fit with the priorities for CCF in Scotland. We are more than happy with how the project has progressed so far and look forward to seeing how the project delivers planned benefits over time.”
Cowal Way has launched an innovative mobile app for the growing digital audience. The use of smart phones has grown significantly in recent years. The majority of the UK population now own one and use it for a variety of purposes, including accessing social media, texting, for research purposes, and also for purchasing various products and services – and the occasional phone call of course.
This new app is free and available to download and use offline. Key features include a map location system, sites of interest with text and audio features, and also all the information one would expect to be able to access before setting off on a long distance route. All at the touch of a screen.
The app is designed to work on iPhone and Android formats.
To download the free app and to access further information please click http://www.cowalway.co.uk/app
We are pleased to announce a new service for Cowal Way users. Starting in April 2016 Balliemeanoch Baggage will provide a dedicated luggage transfer service for people walking, running or cycling the Cowal Way. This new business start up is being managed by Charlie Welsh, who has also provided B&B services to Cowal Way users (Balliemeanoch Breaks) at his farm house along with his partner Angie Brown, for many years.
The service will run from the beginning of April to early October. For more details check out www.balliemeanochbaggage.co.uk