CYCLING to see the Kelpies was made easier today thanks to a £1.3 million upgrading of Scottish Canals’ towpaths, launched by transport minister Keith Brown.
Mr Brown joined pupils from Bowhouse Primary School in Grangemouth to mark the completion of work on a path beside a new half-mile section of the Forth & Clyde Canal between Falkirk and Grangemouth.
It runs between the River Carron, under the M9 motorway and the Kelpies - 100ft (30m) horse head sculptures, which opened in April.
The new section also connects with 17 miles of paths in the surrounding Helix Park.
An all-weather surface has also been added to more than six miles of paths at six other sites across Scotland, thanks to work with cycling development group Sustrans, Glasgow City and Falkirk councils, and West Lothian Landfill Trust.
They are at Knightswood in north-west Glasgow, and Castlecary, Glen Village and Camelon on the Forth & Clyde Canal, at Ardrishaig, near Lochgilphead, on the Crinan Canal, and at Broxburn and Linlithgow on the Union Canal.
Cycling and walking on Scotland’s canal towpaths has quadrupled over the last eight years.
Mr Brown said: “This new towpath at the Helix will hopefully encourage more people to walk and cycle through Scotland’s scenic canal network.
“This Scottish Government is committed to increasing the numbers of people walking and cycling for everyday journeys as well as promoting Scotland as a top tourist destination for cycling.”
Scottish Canals chief executive Steve Dunlop said: “The new Helix towpath is a fantastic addition to Scotland’s canal system and a vital part of the £43m Helix project, as well as Scotland’s cycle network. The nation’s towpaths are busier than ever.”
Sustrans Scotland national director John Lauder said: “It is a terrific facility for local people to use for both commuting and leisure purposes, and I am sure that it will also be a huge hit with visitors.”