AN ICONIC route led by Robert Burns’s Tam O’Shanter has been revived with the help of Scotland’s national walking charity.
The restored path was funded by South Ayrshire Council and Paths for All, with support from NatureScot, for the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative to let visitors retrace the footsteps of Burns’s character and his trusty steed Meg, on their journey home after market day and a drink at an Ayrshire pub.
Pensioner volunteer group ‘Opportunities in Retirement’ identified the need to restore the route which was created by them many years ago.
The route was revived and extended by South Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Paths Initiative (SAPI) in 2020 and named ‘The Blue Bonnet trail’ after Tam’s famous headwear.
Officially completed in July 2021, the 3 miles-long trail features two self-guided historical routes, Tam’s Trail and Alloway Trail, with 23 Blue Bonnet signs to guide the way.
Colin Clark, SAPI representative, said: “The restoration was funded by an application by SAPI with field work completed by South Ayrshire Council’s resource and thanks to Opportunities in Retirement we are now all able to enjoy it.
“It’s a really fantastic project as it benefits not only the local community but the wider Scottish public - it brings in great tourism as well.”
The funding has helped fulfil the long-standing need for interpretation boards and updated trail maps, providing walkers with information about the route and its history.
Colin added: “It is always rewarding to see a project being completed – especially when it is something many of us are truly passionate about. It proves that great things can happen when you put your mind to it.
“The funding by Paths for All has helped us bring the trails to life by updating signs and leaflets to showcase both routes as a national treasure with great historical value.
“Due to lockdown restrictions, our plans for the completed route were put on pause, so we are looking forward to organising possible activities for local school children and pensioners in the near future to showcase the trail to more people.”
Walking enthusiasts from near and far are now able to take the self-led route to explore renowned sights like Brig o’Doon and the Robert Burns Museum using online and leaflet maps, as well as the ‘Ayrshire Through the Ages’ app.
Stuart Bates, chairman of SAPI said: "SAPI's work continues with the development of new walking and cycling routes such as the Culzean Way, a wonderfully scenic off-road path linking the communities of Alloway to Culzean and onwards to Girvan."
Rona Gibb, Senior Manager at Paths for All, said: “The work of volunteers improving their local path network is invaluable, and is fundamental to encouraging more people to walk every day and everywhere.”
Each year the Scottish charity awards thousands of pounds’ worth of grants to projects across the country that aim to promote walking and restore environments for people to be active in.