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Muriel Gray launches Great Glen Ways Initiative

10th March 2008

Photograph of Muriel Gray launches Great Glen Ways Initiative

On 4th March 2008 top Scottish author, broadcaster and business woman, Muriel Gray, officially launched celebrations that mark the completion of a 200,000 public access and interpretation project along the Caledonian Canal and Great Glen Way.

At a ceremony held in Fort Augustus, Ms Gray (whose love of the Scottish outdoors is expressed in her book 'The First Fifty' and tv production 'The Munro Show') launched the Great Glen Ways Initiative which encourages people to explore the Glen 'by boot, by boat and by bike'.

The aims of Initiative are to strengthen the identity of the Great Glen, improve visitor satisfaction and encourage more people to come and enjoy the three Ways: the Great Glen Way, the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trails and the Caledonian Canal. It is anticipated that the Initiative will make significant contributions to the local economy with better employment opportunities in tourism related industries.

Since 2005, work has been underway to improve navigation, way-marking and prepare top quality public interpretation. This work has been managed by The Highland Council in partnership with British Waterways Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. The European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) has contributed 45% of the project funding

A DVD - showcased at the launch - was produced as part of the Initiative and will be used to target national and international marketing with the intention to raise the profile of the Glen as a destination for outdoor activities and increase visitor numbers.

The Initiative has included setting up over thirty large stone and timber monoliths at strategic locations throughout the Glen. Forty-nine information and interpretation panels have been installed onto the monoliths. The main themes on the panels cover history, archaeology and folklore; forest management and wildlife; natural history and geology; travel and transport. There are new information panels at Tourist Information Centres. Way-marker posts and other signs have been improved, making it easier for visitors to find their way. All structures and signs have a distinctive Great Glen Ways design and colour.

A new web site provides further information about the project and gives access on-line to both the DVD and the interpretation panels.

Russell Thomson, British Waterways Highland Canals Manager said: "We're proud to have been a partner in this exemplary project and have already used the wonderful DVD to good effect at the London Boat Show."

Kevin Peace, Forestry Commission Forest District Manager (Lochaber) said: "One of FCS strategic aims is to help to release economic potential. The GGWs does this by attracting walkers, mountain bikers, and canoeists and inviting them to spend time in the glen and use the accommodation and services that are provided giving opportunities for businesses to develop."

Councillor Drew Hendry, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Services said: "This project has been a real example of collaborative working between agencies in order to secure added value for local people. The results of the project will undoubtedly bring many more visitors to the area. This will also enable us to further promote the high quality outdoor activities on offer and to highlight the rich cultural heritage of this world class destination."

Welcoming the initiative, SNH chairman Andrew Thin said: "The Great Glen is one of our most iconic landscapes. This initiative is a great example of enabling a range of people to get out there and enjoy the benefits to their health and well-being. Iconic landscapes such as this also contribute to the economy of Scotland by attracting people here. SNH is delighted to be playing our part in this important scheme highlighting our natural heritage qualities."

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