The Lottery has just awarded £5,587 towards a two-part project developed by KCDC to enhance the Gynack woodland. The path network will be improved to connect the Gynack Mill Trail with the Tom Baraidh woodland paths by a new off-road path adjacent to Ardbroilach Road. Secondly, a programme of work by volunteers and contractors will remove several invasive trees and plants to enhance the nature of this excellent hazel wood.
The path work will be carried out by the KCDC volunteer path group who meet weekly to maintain and improve the path network around Kingussie. Their recent work has included improvements to the path up the south side of Creag Bheag and several completely renewed sections of the Golf Course Circular path above Loch Gynack and also Kingussie Golf Course. Additionally the path surface has been re-laid for several sections of the circular path around Tom Baraidh Woodland and the path out to Raitts. The group has also placed refurbished benches above the golf course, above Loch Gynack, on Craig Bheag, on the cycle path to Newtonmore and on the Speyside Way within the RSPB reserve near Invertromie. They have been updating the Kingussie paths leaflet and a new edition will be produced by the Cairngorm National Park Authority soon.
An informal path leading northwards from the existing path above the Hydro Bridge has been long used as a “desire line” up to Ardbroilach Road. This initial 80m section will be widened and properly surfaced with any dips in gradient ironed out to give a comfortable route from the bridge up to the road.
Once level with the road, a further section of 140m off-road path will be built adjacent to Ardbroilach Road as far as the gateway that marks the start of Pitmain Estate. From the gate posts there is an entrance into the path system around the Tom Baraidh Woodland. A segregated path for walkers and cyclists to link the Gynack Mill Trail with the Tom Baraidh paths will be a great addition both to safety and comfort. Additional tree planting of hazel and goat willow will be used to replace any trees removed to create the path.
These sections of path are on remnants of land owned by the Dochfour Estate who traditionally owned much of the Kingussie area. They have agreed to sell this to KCDC for a nominal sum. The path beside the road requires planning permission and KCDC has already had general approval from both The Highland Council and Cairngorms National Park Authority.
The woodland to the south of the hydro scheme as far as the Cross Restaurant was gifted to KCDC in 2012 and 2017. It has a mixture of tree types and, although often known locally as “The Birches”, is a good example of a hazel wood which has a wide range of tree types such as hazel, hawthorn, birch, alder, bird cherry, rowan, goat willow, larch, Douglas fir, oak and Scots pine. KCDC volunteers have been regularly removing sycamore seedlings to prevent them swamping out the other, less prolific, trees. This grant will allow KCDC to use professional tree surgeons to remove several mature sycamores to help this process. Some other mature trees that are dying and at risk of becoming dangerous may also be removed. The losses of several large trees in recent storms have created gaps and it is even more important to manage this woodland to encourage a range of trees. KCDC are a member of the Community Woodland Association and are very grateful for the advice and support of the CWA Senior Woodland Advisor, Piers Voysey.
Other plant species which are part of the hazel woodland include dog’s mercury, wood anemone, pignut and wood avens. These are under threat from some non-native species such as white butterbur and snowberry which spread fast and shade out other plants. As part of this project KCDC will be organising volunteers and groups to systematically remove these from the woodland. The most effective, but labour intensive, method is repeatedly digging out the invading plants.
Apart from some specialist assistance the majority of work in this project will be carried out by volunteers from the Kingussie community. Anyone is welcome to join in with the KCDC paths group and we would welcome any other groups or individuals that would like to get involved. Kingussie High School rural skills students have already been involved with the paths group on Creag Bheag and Tom Baraidh and we hope to involve them throughout this project.
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