Fisherman’s Walk extension will encourage access for all

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By Colin Smeeton

Three anonymous benefactors on Arran have allowed the extension of the popular Fisherman’s Walk boardwalk in an effort at encouraging more people to enjoy the picturesque route and to allow access for the less able.

The kind donations have seen the boardwalk just about double in size from its existing 160 metres to extend all the way from the boggy terrain at the bridges to across the beach and to the entrance near the golf course gate.

The sturdily constructed boardwalk is elevated above the high tide mark, meanders along the golf course border, and allows pedestrians, and wheelchair users, to bypass the section of path which had crumbled into the estuary and necessitated a climb over the sandstone boulders at high tide.

Alastair Hendry, who reluctantly described himself as being ‘involved’ in the project, praised the workmanship of Scott Murdoch of Arran Footpath and Forestry Ltd, for not only undertaking the work at a reasonable price, but also for his insightful and helpful ideas, and also for the quality of his work which will open the route up for everyone.

Alastair, who is well known on Arran for more than 25 years of campaigning for access for the less able in just about every forest, woodland and scenic area on the island, is delighted that the project was able to be brought to fruition in less than four months since receiving permission from landowner Arran Estates.

Despite the disappointing reluctance to embrace enabling less abled access, and the lengthy processes of consultation, tendering, appointing and scheduling and committee decisions, Alastair has still managed to accomplish projects in North Sannox and Sannox, and elsewhere on the island, through dogged determination and the mutual respect afforded to him as someone who has been involved in forestry on Arran for decades.

When asked about why he campaigns so fervently for less abled access over so many years, Alastair said: ‘ I have taken great pleasure in walking up the glens and the hills on Arran for over 50 years and I don’t think this should just be a privilege for me.

‘The very young, very old, and everyone in between should benefit from experiencing Arran’s hills and glens and it gives me great pleasure knowing that people of all ages, and abilities, are able to enjoy Arran as much as I do.’

Alastair thanked everyone involved for helping to extend access to just one small part on Arran and he remains optimistic that, in time, access can be improved in other parts of Arran, including Lamlash, Dyemill, Clauchlands, Kildonan and Blackwaterfoot, among many others.

The Fisherman’s Walk remains one of Arran’s most popular routes, for visitors and locals, with 10s of thousands of people using it every year.

This bold initiative which will make the route even more accessible for people of all abilities will undoubtedly invite many more people to use it, and hopefully, as Alastair wishes, will help to demonstrate that extending access for all can easily be achieved with the right will and motivation.