Kirk Helps Connect Communities in Dumfries & Galloway

Cyclists and walkers are a step closer to being able to safely travel between two villages thanks to the Church of Scotland.

The General Trustees have leased a parcel of glebe land to enable a new traffic free pathway to eventually open between Penpont and Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway.

The official opening of what is the first of a three-phase project to create the Nithsdale active travel path is taking place on 23 March from 11am-1pm.

People are asked to gather at the Glebe Field entrance by Penpont Church Hall.

Morag Menneer, head of Land and Estates for the General Trustees, the property holding arm of the Church of Scotland, said: “The General Trustees were delighted to be able to assist the local church and community to provide an all access pathway between the villages of Penpont and Thornhill across a part of the glebe field.

“They have also provided the adjacent field to be used as a campsite later in the year for a cycle rally.

“The Church is blessed to be able to help and share in this way.”

The project is being led by Keir, Penpont and Tynron Development Trust, backed by £1,557,806 of funding from the Scottish Government, administered through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone programme.

Benches and bike stands have also been installed at two placemaking areas along the path, enabling people to rest while enjoying views of the surrounding landscape.

When phases 1B and 1C of the project are complete, a 2.4 mile path will connect Penpont and Thornhill, enabling residents to safely walk, wheel and cycle between the two villages.

Community support

John Fawcett, session clerk of Penpont Keir and Tynron Church, said: “The Kirk Session is delighted that some of the glebe land has been used to enable the local community to create this active travel path, which starts next to the church hall.

“It is a great path and already has been well used over the last few months even though it is officially opening on 23 March.

“The church hall will be used as a base for the opening ceremony which I hope will be well attended.”

The new path will provide environmental benefits with hedge planting and sowing of wildflowers along the route which will enhance local biodiversity and greenspace.

Maureen Halkett, chair of the Keir, Penpont and Tynron Development Trust, said: “We have had incredible support from all the funders and local landowners, who have helped our small rural development trust realise its dream of ensuring residents can safety embrace active travel.

“The new path will bring health, wellbeing environmental and economic benefits for local people and visitors.”

Conor Cross, grant manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see work finish on the first phase of the new Nithsdale active travel path between Penpont and Thornhill.

“The route has created a vital traffic-free space for walking, wheeling and cycling, making it easier and safer than ever for residents and visitors to the area to travel actively.

“We hope this will give more people, regardless of age or ability, the confidence to make healthier and more sustainable choices for their everyday journeys.”

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