Steinish Circular Coastal Trail, which is being developed in partnership with the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path and supported by Point and Sandwick Trust’s community development team, is on track for completion by Spring.
Point and Sandwick Trust’s engineering consultant Tony Robson, who has been giving technical assistance, said the first phase of the Steinish trail – the 2km stretch off Simon’s Road along the estuary to meet the Steinish road end – would be finished by the end of February.
The second phase, which will involve extending the track around the shore side of Steinish village and up around the far side of the village to near the airport, is due to be finished by March or April. That can now go ahead after Point and Sandwick Trust’s community consultant Alasdair Nicholson secured the last bit of funding to make it happen.
Alasdair warmly welcomed the grant award of £46,182 from the Scottish Government’s Islands Green Recovery Programme. As well as allowing completion of the Steinish trail, the money will also support the installation of benches along the whole of the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path – a 40km route from Stornoway around the Point peninsula, that will form part of the legacy of Point and Sandwick Trust’s community wind farm, as one of the key funders.
Progress on the first phase of the Steinish trail, which looks out over the estuary and its sinking sands known locally as ‘the Cob’, can be seen clearly in these photos by Point and Sandwick Trust’s resident photographer Sandie Maciver, taken on Friday.
Tony Robson, pictured inspecting progress on the path, said “the worst bit” was now nearly finished and it had been “very helpful” to get the extra money. He also spoke of how many people could benefit from this project.
“There’s a big population that will potentially use these paths,” he said. “You’ve got Steinish, Perceval Road, Plasterfield. You also have the edge of Stornoway. Up till now it’s been inaccessible really but in another couple of weeks we should have a finished path.”
Alasdair Nicholson said it was “a good boost to see progress despite all the other things like Covid and lockdowns”, adding: “I’m quite confident that that particular section of the path will be especially well used, seeing it’s near a lot of centres of population.
“I think it will be excellent when it’s finished.”
Alasdair said he was “very happy” to have secured the Islands Green Recovery grant, to complement monies already raised by Mossend Residents Association. “When money is tighter or more difficult to get, because of the national situation, then it’s obviously great to have been able to get hold of some additional resource that can accelerate and deliver on the project by the end of March, which is what we hope to do.”
He added: “It’s excellent that this is a collaboration between Mossend Residents Association and Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path. It’s fantastic that there is this partnership work.”
Previously, Mossend Residents Association had secured more than £42,000 from the Crown Estate Coastal Communities Fund to allow the work at Steinish to begin.
The path being constructed in the first phase will be 2km long and 1.2 metres wide with wider areas of 1.7 metres for passing and resting. It will be surfaced to allow for easy wheelchair and buggy access. The project has been supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, among others, as the area around the estuary is well known for its bird life and indeed contains a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Progress on the project has been welcomed by many including Point and Sandwick Trust honorary president and local councillor Angus McCormack, himself a resident of nearby North Street and who supported Mossend Residents Association in their efforts to develop the trail.
Angus said “a lot of preparatory work” had gone into getting the project together and described it as “a beautiful walk”, adding: “There’s a very wide variety of birds to be seen over the year and sometimes it’s very interesting to see the fish go in the river.”
Michael Smith, who is on both the Mossend Residents Association and the Steinish Community Development Trust, undertook much of the recent background work to bring the project to the planning stage and welcomed the partnership support.
He said: “This additional funding to improve the development and add the provision of seating along the route will mean the new coastal path at Steinish village will be more accessible to more members of the community. It is a result of the great work and input by Point and Sandwick Trust.”