Idyllic beauty spot where Rabbie Burns proposed to get a major upgrade

by Catriona Conway-Mortimer

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Facelift to scene of bard’s engagement to Highland Mary is now delivering valuable charity PR

Rabbie Burns impersonator Chris Tait captured in PR photography with a rare first edition of Burns' poetry

ROBERT Burns’ fabled engagement spot is among the areas which are to be significantly upgraded in South Ayrshire by a volunteer-led community improvement project.

South Ayrshire Paths, a group of local volunteers dedicated to promoting the development, upkeep and public awareness of paths in the area, received an Improved Community Paths grant of £1,500 from Scottish charity, Paths for All.

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.

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.”

PR photography from the Rabbie Burns Museum in Ayrshire

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.

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.”

As the project progresses, the public is being invited to keep up to date with the improvement work by using the hashtag #KnowYourRoutes.

Ian Findlay, Chief Officer at Paths for All said: “Carrying out and organising the upkeep of such large areas can be logistically and physically challenging, so South Ayrshire Paths really does deserve a round of applause.

“The work that the group is doing has far more than local value – it’ll have a big impact on improving the physical, mental and social health of society.

“Having safe and clear local areas is so important when it comes to keeping us active and connecting with nature and our community.

“Upgraded paths really build on community spirit as they’re more frequently used by commuters, dog walkers, joggers, children playing and people enjoying the simple but very important pleasure of just going for a walk.”

Robert Burns merchandise captured in PR photography

Paths for All has awarded £90,000 worth of grants to 48 groups across Scotland, from South Ayrshire to Angus, 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.

Last year, over £70,000 was given to 41 projects through two community path grant schemes.

Paths for All works with Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiatives

The Scottish charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.


Notes to Editors:

About Paths for All

Paths For All logo. The walking and health champions work with charity PR experts at Holryood PRPaths for All is a partnership of organisations committed to promoting walking for health and the development of multi-use path networks in Scotland. We champion walking in Scotland for everyone, every day and everywhere.
Our aim is to significantly increase the number of people who choose to walk in Scotland – whether that’s leisure walking or active-choice walking to work, school or shops. We want to create a happier, healthier Scotland, where increased physical activity improves quality of life and wellbeing for all.
We work to create more opportunities and better environments not just for walking, but also for cycling and other activities, to help make Scotland a more active, more prosperous, greener country.
Paths for All is supported by the Scottish Government to promote physical activity and walking for health in Scotland and is a key delivery partner for the Scottish Government’s National Walking Strategy and the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework.

About Active Environments community grants
Paths for All manage three grant funds for community groups to create, improve, maintain and promote community paths. These funds contribute towards creating safe, accessible, and welcoming environments for everyone to be more active.
Our funders for the Community Active Travel grants, Improving Community Paths grants and Community Paths Your Choice grants are Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage.

About the Scottish Wildlife Trust

  • The Scottish Wildlife Trust is Scotland’s leading nature conservation charity, representing over 40,000 members who care for wildlife and the natural environment.
  • For over 50 years, Trust has worked with its members, partners and supporters in pursuit of its vision of healthy, resilient ecosystems across Scotland’s land and seas.
  • The Trust successfully champions the cause of wildlife through policy and campaigning work, demonstrates best practice through practical conservation and innovative partnerships, and inspires people to take positive action through its education and engagement activities.
  • The Trust manages a network of 120 wildlife reserves across Scotland and is a member of the UK-wide Wildlife Trusts movement.
  • The Trust receives financial assistance and support from a range of organisations, funders and individuals including Scottish Natural Heritage and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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Catriona Conway-Mortimer, account executive with Holyrood PR in Edinburgh, Scotland

Catriona Conway-Mortimer

Catriona Conway-Mortimer is part of the award-winning PR team at Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

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