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Peffery Way path linking Dingwall and Strathpeffer hits new fundraising target and secures extra boost from Gordon & Ena Baxter Foundation

By Hector MacKenzie

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Nessa Findlay and Ron McAulay have helped steer the project.
Picture: Callum Mackay
Nessa Findlay and Ron McAulay have helped steer the project. Picture: Callum Mackay

A TRAILBLAZING bid to link two prominent Ross-shire communities by a path paving the way for safe car-free commuting has been given a massive vote of confidence during the Covid-19 crisis.

A surge of support during the public health crisis for the all-abilities link between Dingwall and Strathpeffer has just seen a new £10,000 fundraising target hit, with some grateful supporters hailing the route a "lockdown lifesaver".

And now the voluntary Peffery Way Association (PWA), formed five years ago to create a cycle and footpath accessible by all, has secured an additional £2000 boost from the Gordon & Ena Baxter Foundation.

As well as offering an active travel option avoiding treacherous sections of road for people working in each community, hopes are high the path will also ultimately host trishaw rides for senior citizens, helping to battle social isolation and get people out into the countryside.

An online fundraising campaign has allowed the group – supported by enthusiastic work party volunteers – to tackle a challenging 300m section of new path in Knockbain Woods.

PWA chairman Ron MacAulay said: "We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated. We have been bowled over by your generosity and the support from over 70 donors. This includes two particularly generous donations from local residents which have enabled us to reach our ambitious target of £10,000. This funding amazing support will allow us to continue to make progress over the coming months and is very much appreciated."

An application to the Gordon & Ena Baxter Foundation for a further £2000 was also successful.

Cllr Ian Cockburn: 'Terrific asset'.
Cllr Ian Cockburn: 'Terrific asset'.

That will help ensure the construction progress over the coming months.

Mr McAulay added: "This is very welcome. Since the beginning of the year we have seen a significant increase in the number of people using the route. Clearly it is proving extremely popular with walkers, runners and cyclists during these challenging times. We are delighted to be able to be in a position to complete another significant section of the route.

"Once completed, the Peffery Way will offer car-free access to the surrounding countryside whether for exercise, recreation or commuting to and from work. The path will be suitable for people of all abilities and we know it will be a tremendous asset to the communities we serve."

Kay Jackson, manager at The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation said; "We have watched the progress of this enthusiastic group over the last couple of years and admire their achievements to date, particularly in mobilising volunteers of all ages from the local area to help out in so many different ways.With outdoor activities even more important to our daily lives, the completed route will be greatly appreciated."

Full planning permission was granted for the entire route – which largely follows the line of the old railway between Strathpeffer and Fodderty, and then runs parallel to the operational railway between Fodderty and Dingwall – in 2017. Since then, just over half of the 6km path has been completed.

Local councillor Ian Cockburn called it "a terrific asset". He said: "The amount of work that the committee and volunteers have put in over the years has been immense .Once it is completed from Strathpeffer to Dingwall it will be a terrific example of what communities can do for their area."

Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Margaret Paterson said: "It has been a great success and a huge thank you to the hard working group who together made it possible. Many people are enjoying the walk and the lovely views."

Related: Fresh appeal for trailblazing route

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