A Dundee path which is home to native Scottish wildlife, such as otters, kingfishers and dippers, has been given a new lease of life to encourage residents to take more walks in nature.
The green pathway adjacent to an industrial estate in the east of Dundee has been significantly upgraded after Scotland’s walking charity awarded a grant totalling £4,000 to a volunteer-led community improvement project.
Dighty Connect, which is part of East Dundee Environmental Network [EDEN], was awarded a Paths for All Active Travel grant to help with its efforts in improving greenspaces and paths in East Dundee and the wider area.
The funding supported by Transport Scotland has helped restore a 500m stretch of path along Dighty Burn.
Untouched for 15 years, the path was in a bad state of repair. Yet, the volunteers at Dighty Connect took only four days to complete most of the renovations.
Ann Lolley, Project Co-ordinator at Dighty Connect, said: “During lockdown the path route alongside the burn has been a lifeline for many locals as it has given them a place to access the outdoors and nature.
“Our group works to transform areas along the Dighty Burn for people and nature, within parts of Dundee that are often neglected.
“We run many projects to actively engage people living close by in the paths and green spaces as well as enhancing the walking environment for residents.
“For 15 years, we’ve been committed to working with the local community to identify and deliver projects and initiatives ranging from path and entrance improvements, environmental education programmes, citizen science and practical conservation work, to publishing books, leaflets and maps.
“We look to get the community involved on every step to of the way; to make sure we work on projects in areas that mean something to local people. Our main aim is to bring local people’s ideas to life.”
The path work was completed by a group consisting of 10 volunteers, who brought a host of different skills, attributes and resources, with the wider community helping out where they can with other activities such as litter picking and planting wild flowers.
New projects are already in the works, with the community group liaising with bosses at the 2000 plus employee industrial estate which is adjacent to the burn.
The hope is that employees will be encouraged to utilise the path on their commute to work – as well as people living in the east of Dundee and the surrounding areas.
The regenerated path is also central to a project being supported by Paths for All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund targeting local schools and employers to encourage active commutes.
Ann added: “Paths for All has been amazing to work with and its continuous support has helped make the area into a local green and blue space to enjoy.
“There is lot of wildlife in the area, we have spotted otters, kingfishers and dippers, and most recently we spotted Beaver damage on trees alongside the repaired path.
“The upgraded path really builds on the community spirit as we have noticed more people using it – especially workers walking and cycling to work as well as a quiet place to sit during their lunch break. It is also used by dog walkers and people enjoying the simple but important pleasure of just going for a walk in nature.”
Paths for All awarded £65,459 worth of grants to 33 groups across Scotland, from the Isle of Lewis to the Scottish Borders, who have transformed neglected parts of their local path networks.
Community Path funding will be used for wide-ranging work including structural improvements, installing signage, hiring tools or contractors, promoting hidden routes and improving biodiversity along path networks.
This year’s grants have been funded by Nature Scot, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government. The Community Path grant is now open for applications for up to £1500 to support upgrade, promotion, and maintenance of local paths.
Rona Gibb, Senior Manager at Paths for All, said: “With walking being one of few reasons for leaving our homes over the past year, it has shown how important it is to have access to nice outdoor spaces and routes.
“The work ongoing in communities across the country has far more than local value – it has a big impact on improving the physical, mental and social health of society.
“Having safe and accessible local greenspace is so central when it comes to keeping us active and connecting with nature and our community.
“The work of volunteers improving their local path network is invaluable, and is fundamental to encouraging more people to walk every day and everywhere.”
Paths for All works with Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiatives.
The Scottish charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.
Paths for All’s focus is clear: it wants to get Scotland walking: everyone, every day, everywhere.