Robert Burns' engagement spot to be restored

Robert Burns’ fabled engagement spot is among the areas being upgraded in South Ayrshire by a volunteer-led community improvement project.

South Ayrshire Paths Initiative, a group of local volunteers dedicated to promoting the development, upkeep and public awareness of paths in the area, received a Community Paths grant of £1,500 from us last year.

The organisation aims to improve existing infrastructure along an ancient path, in the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Ayr Gorge Woodlands reserve, which is rumoured to be the location of Robert Burns’ engagement to Highland Mary.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and South Ayrshire Council’s Outdoor Access Officer, the group will be repairing wooden steps along the current path.

Colin Clark, the chairman of South Ayrshire Paths Initiative, said:

We’re all eager to restore a significant part of Ayrshire’s history, so we were delighted to be awarded the grant from Paths for All to help us do this.
The route is incredibly scenic and can be enjoyed in all seasons. It’s our hope that restoring features like the deteriorated wooden steps and installing new way-markers will make the path accessible to more walkers.
We’ll be carrying out the work alongside volunteers from the Scottish Wildlife Trust and will have completed the project by February next year, when there will be an official opening of the improved route.

Gill Smart, Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager, said: “These improvements were a high priority for the Trust. Ayr Gorge Woodlands is home to some fabulous wildlife and good access means that local people can easily enjoy and experience that for themselves.
“Partnerships like our work with the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative are invaluable. It means that visitors to the reserve will benefit from improved paths, volunteers have an ambitious project to tackle, and we have also gained expert, ongoing input on the suitability of our access provision.”

Between September and October 2018, we awarded £90,000 worth of grants to 48 groups across Scotland who will transform neglected parts of their local path networks in the coming months.
As part of a Know Your Routes campaign, money 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 three grant schemes have been funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

We award thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.