New walking map created to 'spread' tourists on Isle of Lewis

A new path network has been marked out on the Isle of Lewis in a bid to help disperse tourists and open up new walking routes across the area as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease.

The walking map, outlining nine new routes, has been devised by volunteers at the Uig Development Trust to encourage visitors to explore more of the island ahead of an anticipated influx of holidaymakers.

It aims to alleviate visitor pressure at some of the most traditionally popular destinations while highlighting places which have previously been overlooked.

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Scottish walking charity Paths for All has awarded a grant to help further develop the project, funding new signposting for a three-mile route starting at Carrishader and ending at Loch Suaineabhat.

Nine new walking routes have been mapped out on the Isle of Lewis in a bid to help spread tourists across the island and alleviate pressure on some of the most popular destinations

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Isle of Lewis resident Sophie Brown is development officer for the trust and a trained health walk leader with Paths for All.

She co-ordinates walks in Uig with members of the community.

“We wanted to encourage people out into the moors and enjoy different parts of nature safely, and in a responsible way,” she said.

Uig Development Trust led a team of local volunteers, marking out the new walking routes and putting up new signage

“The posts funded by Paths for All have helped mark one of our new routes, which ends with glorious views of Loch Suaineabhat and Uig Sands.

“We wanted the path to take people across an interesting section of the moorland to try and take the pressure off the more frequently visited sites.” She added: “It was a great effort from the community.”

Paths for All has awarded £65,459 of grants to 33 groups across Scotland that have transformed neglected parts of their local path networks.

Community Path funding will be used for wide-ranging work, including structural improvements, signage, hiring tools or contractors, promoting hidden routes and improving biodiversity.

This year’s grants have been funded by national agency Nature Scot, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

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.”

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