Lady Mary’s Walk in Crieff was used by an average of 160 people-a-day in July this year, it has been claimed.
And calls have been made to turn the local landmark into a tourist attraction for outdoor enthusiasts.
Various issues relating to the pathway’s usage, and that of neighbouring Acorn Dell, were discussed at a public meeting in the Strathearn Community Campus on Tuesday night this week.
The gathering, which attracted about 30 people and was chaired by Strathearn councillor Ann Cowan, was called in a bid to provide an update as to how the land lies in relation to community-owned Acorn Dell, which links onto Lady Mary’s Walk.
Opening the meeting, Councillor Cowan said: “We all love Lady Mary’s Walk and know the problems that exist there. The next step may well be for volunteers to take things forward and hopefully there are people here tonight who love Crieff and want to do that.”
During a discussion, which concentrated on both of the two closely-linked areas at various points, one local resident said word of Lady Mary’s Walk had already spread across the globe.
He said: “We meet tourists on the walk all the time and they say what a great advantage Lady Mary’s Walk is to the area. My wife and I have had Lady Mary’s Walk mentioned to us by people when we’ve been in Asia.
“The walk could be a tourist attraction for the whole area and it’s something we should be capitalising on as more and more people are using it.”
Stewart McLaren, who was involved in the negotiations to purchase Acorn Dell in his role with the Crieff and Upper Strathearn Partnership, explained the land was registered with a separate community group, the Crieff Initiative, after it was bought from its previous owners, two Malaysian businessmen, in early 2012.
He said: “We own the ground and we need now to decide what to do with it.”
The need for action was highlighted by one person at the meeting who said that the current condition of Acorn Dell and Lady Mary’s Walk could pose problems for wheelchair users and families with pushchairs or prams, particularly in periods of poor weather.
Alistair Godfrey, an officer with Perth and Kinross Council, suggested members of the community could adopt a Friends of MacRosty Park-style model in order to help attract grant funding. He said that the council would be on hand to offer support and guidance.
Pat Campbell, a former chair of the Friends of MacRosty Park, was present and outlined the layers of red tape that had to be cut through to achieve successful grant funding applications.
Dawn Griesbach, of the Crieff Community Trust, encouraged anyone thinking of forming an Acorn Dell-specific group to consider getting involved with the Trust, as it already had the potential to apply for various pots of grant funding and enhancing the area’s core paths network was one of its goals.
Following the meeting, Councillor Cowan contacted the Herald to say 10 people had signed up on the night to attend a further meeting on October 8, where a more formal discussion is to take place on the same issues.