Keir Penpont and Tynron Development Trust Celebrate Opening of Phase 1a of Penpont to Thornhill Active Travel Path

Keir Penpont and Tynron Development Trust Open Phase 1a of the Penpont to
Thornhill Active Travel Path

KPTDT is delighted to announce the official opening of Phase 1a of the PTATP marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony by Oliver Mundell, MSP for Mid and Upper Nithsdale.

Phase 1A, the first in a multi-stage project, has created a traffic-free path which stretches from Penpont to the Drumlanrig access road, and finished construction on the 22 nd of December 2023. Phase 1B and 1C aim to provide a 4km path which will connect Penpont and Thornhill, enabling residents to safely walk, wheel and cycle between the two villages.

Maureen Halkett, Chairman of KPTDT welcomed guests and residents and thanked all who had made completion of this first stage of the project a reality. In particular, our funders, Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme backed by Transport Scotland, SWestrans, South of Scotland Enterprise, Dumfries and Galloway Council Communities Committee, Scottish and Southern Electricity Renewables, Scottish Land Trust, Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC) and Sustrans ArtsRoots Fund.

Buccleuch Estates, Church of Scotland and Mr David Kirkpatrick were also thanked for leasing part of the land along the route of the path.

Special thanks were extended to principal design and project managing engineers, Transport Planning and Engineering’s Rowena and Dave Colpitts who went above and beyond to ensure the project was delivered and our patient Sustrans advisors Rachel Alcock- Hodgson and Sara Grenni. She also gave thanks to Jenni Biggs, our finance manager who made sense of the finances and the Sustrans portal on our behalf. Also singled out were Fife Gibson, Josh Nowell, Neil Davidson of D&S Little Stonemasons, JoAnne McKay, Jim Cronie of Business Micros and the Thornhill and District Rotary Club, who, coordinated by KPTDT volunteer Briony Anderson, collaborated in creating the Placemaking Areas where travellers can rest and absorb past and present in beautiful mid Nithsdale.

“This is such a special day for the area” said Maureen, “A path between Penpont and Thornhill has been long wished for and now here is the first phase complete making walking and cycling a joy for all. I cannot conclude without making mention of the work done by the Tracks and Trails Group of the Trust and in particular Caroline Buck whose tenacity and determination has got us to this stage. The Group are gearing up for Phases 1B and 1C In his speech Mr Mundell congratulated the community on having achieved this milestone in connecting their villages with the facilities in Thornhill.

It is really exciting to see this project opened and delivered and it is testament to the hard work of the community. I remember when the concept was first suggested and meeting with community representatives at my surgery in Penpont and at that time it seemed a huge and ambitious undertaking and many people thought it was an impossible project. This project shows what can be done when people pull together to realise something beneficial for the wider community. There is no doubt more needs to be done to make sure those living in rural areas get the benefits of Active Travel and this project will hopefully act as a route map for others”

Robbie Logan, well known Penpont Piper then led a procession of active travellers young and old along the first section of the path. Everyone then returned to the Penpont Church Hall for refreshments provided by The Three Villages Café, another successful KPTDT community enterprise..

The path will provide more equal access for residents to reach Wallace Hall Academy and local colleges plus an active travel alternative to retail and leisure facilities, medical appointments and onward travel throughout the region.

There will also be environmental benefits, with hedge planting and under-sowing of wildflowers along the new path enhancing local biodiversity and greenspace.

This section of the project, led by Keir, Penpont and Tynron Development Trust (KPTDT) volunteers, was backed by £1,056,084 construction funding from the Scottish Government, administered through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone programme and the abovementioned match funders.

Feedback from Active Travellers since this section has been open, has been overwhelmingly positive and just a few are quoted here.

A Penpont single mother with no car. I’ve been meaning to put in writing my feelings about our new active travel path and here they are…. I LOVE it!!

I first walked the path a few times before the festive season in both rain and some rare winter sun. In both cases, the feeling of spacious expansiveness looking out over the valley from the elevated points along the path reminded me that when moving to this area from the coast, and despite the many beautiful woodland valley and waterway walks we are so lucky to have, this feeling is something I have missed; being able to see far and feel the open space around.

Since then, due to the unreliability of the local bus service I have committed to cycling to work/shopping/leisure where at all possible and so far have not used a bus this year…thanks to this path. It’s hard to express how much help this is to me!

When the final stretch of path is open, the considerable additional difference it will make to my family is that it will make walking, rather than cycling, safely feasible. So, for example if I have a full shopping trolley with food or Avon deliveries which is too much to carry on my back on a bike, I will still be able to manage. Also, if travelling on elsewhere from Thornhill I won’t have to think about leaving my bike in Thornhill till I return.

However, meantime, suffice to say, having the path has impacted hugely my ability to make my life work smoothly here, which in turn is having a positive effect on my mental as well as physical health already.

THANK YOU…to everyone who made this possible!

Debbie Kennedy – wheelchair dependent Keir

Thank you for a smashing path! I thoroughly enjoyed travelling from home to the start of the path behind the school to the end of the path at Burnhead. We continued on down the road and turned right by the old church and up into Keir across the iron bridge. From there it was a straight run home to our house between Keir and Penpont. This is the first time I have ever been able to do a circuitous route from and back home as every other possibility involves soft ground that eats my wheelchair or the scary narrow road which the new path avoids.

What a treat to find a path which is flat from side to side – no veering helplessly down a camber into the rough – and wide enough that Liam and I can go side by side instead of single file. I have no idea of the work, effort, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making this happen, but to those very special people who did, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now who wants a race?

Alicia Hood-Penpont Primary School parent

Well done all involved in the long slog to make this project happen. We love, love love this new path and it has enabled us to cycle to school all but one day in the winter.