The Banchory Paths Association (BPA) is a voluntary association that is an associate member of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and has the following objectives:
To advance, promote, encourage, co-ordinate and facilitate the creation and management of local footpath networds within the Banchory area for the use of local people and visitors alike, for the purpose of furthering their health, well-being and enjoyment of the countryside.
To keep open existing routes and liaise with landowners in the development of new and existing footpaths.
To advance the education of the general public regarding environmental and conservation issues.
The BPA Chair is John Mason and he can be contacted on 01330 825831.
Strachan Paths Group is affiliated to the Banchory Paths Association.
Scolty Trails Enhancement Project (STEP)The Forestry Commission carpark providing access to Scolty Hill is situated approximately 2 kms from the Banchory town centre on the south side of the River Dee (OS Landranger map 45). The lower part of the hill on the north and east sides is largely owned by the Forestry Commission and is commercially logged and the upper part is owned by Mr Ron Middleton and is used for occasional grazing. There are four significant paths to the summit where there is a tower and signboards pointing out the superb views to the north, south, east and west. The hill is a much valued amenity for Banchory and Deeside residents as well as tourists and visits to it have virtually doubled over the last six years to well over 8000 vehicles a month in August 2005 and it is estimated that between 100-120,000 people visit the hill each year.
Following a public survey conducted jointly by the Forestry Commission and Scolty Woodland Park Association in 2005, the noticeable deterioration of some of the paths to the Scolty hill summit was identified as a particular issue. While their increasing use by Banchory residents and visitors is welcomed, their deterioration is a matter of concern; indeed, in some localised places there is already a need for care. The appropriate local body to address this matter was agreed to be BPA and it held a public meeting on 13 March 2006 which included the Forestry Commission and the landowner, Mr Middleton, to encourage a general discussion on what might be done. As a result of the meeting a working group (the Scolty Trail Enhancement Project (STEP)) under the BPA umbrella was formed in May 2006 to tackle the problem.
It was agreed that in any future work every effort should be made to cater for as many sections of the community as possible (walkers, bikers, families) and that the three existing routes from the north/north west side of the hill to the summit should be maintained and, where necessary, improved and a fourth path from the summit to the eastern Forestry Commission boundary will also be improved. The four routes were identified as:
- Path 1: heads south-west up the steep and most direct route to the summit from the main track at the foot of the hill. Work required: This path will be largely resurfaced with drainage improvements incorporated.
- Path 2: a steep and eroded southerly path up to the summit that starts about a half-kilometre along the westerly track from the Forestry Commission boundary gate. Work required: This path will need total repair/resurfacing. No drainage exists at present and this will be added.
- Path 3: starts as the westerly track from the gate at the Forestry Commission boundary, but continues south-westerly on a gentler gradient until it follows the saddle between Scolty and Hill of Goauch, then approaches Scolty summit from the south west.
Work required: This path needs drainage work along its length to keep surface rain water from eroding the path.
The developments by bikers on and around the existing path to the summit on the east/south east side of the hill through Forestry Commission property were noted and it was agreed that that side should predominantly be developed for bikers in any future plans. The path leading to the summit from the boundary fence will have some drainage work and a small amount of surfacing performed.
The status of the project at August 2010 was:
- The path repair programme on Scolty is almost finalised, with all work to be completed by end-2010.
- Path signage has been procured but has still to be erected.
- Aberdeenshire Council has agreed to take over the maintenance of the primary access path to the summit as part of its core paths programme.
- The funding for the project was received from the following bodies:
- Scottish Rural Development LEADER Programme £63,000
- Scottish Natural Heritage £60,000
- Aberdeenshire Council £15,000
- Community Landfill Fund £6,000
- Scottish Forestry Commission £5,200
- Banchory & District Initiative £1,500
- Banchory Paths Association £500
- Total £151,200
The photos below show the path before and after repairs