Supporting Community projectsthroughout the Tactran region
Bringing Pitnappie Cutting back on track
A group of dedicated volunteers in Angus is aiming to turn a disused railway cutting into a safe active-travel route, with support from Tactran and other organisations.
The Sidlaw Path Network is a volunteer group dedicated to upgrading, signposting and promoting local paths in the Sidlaw area of Angus. Secretary Gill Zealand explains about the project. “The Pitnappie Cutting is part of the old Dundee-Newtyle railway and it’s been disused for the last 50 years. It runs through the Glack of Newtyle, which is a narrow, twisty road that leads north of Muirhead to Newtyle. The road is steep, dark and overshadowed by trees so it’s not an easy place to be cycling, walking or horse-riding.
“This section of railway belonged to the Kinpurnie Estate; it’s since been sold off in lots and the Cutting end belongs to a different landowner. We are currently hoping, with support from Angus Council’s Access Officer, to persuade him to put stiles in and allow access and to let us complete the job. Meanwhile we’re trying to get the northern half made into a self-contained loop.”
How has Tactran supported this project?
“Tactran awarded us £1700 for a feasibility study and £7500 for an engineer’s report; we are very indebted to them. We also received funding from Angus Environmental Trust and the Forestry Commission (now Forestry and Land Scotland). We got a team to take away the fallen timber and get the drainage working again. After a few years and a lot of work, we had a perfectly walkable, if unfinished, route thanks to Tactran’s funding.
“Having a safe off-road route through the Sidlaws aligns with Tactran’s aims, and the team there is very supportive in terms of keeping the project running. We had representatives from Tactran and Sustrans walking along the track with us in the early stages and they were both impressed.
“We are very grateful for Tactran’s support and we hope the project will get back up and running soon. We have put a lot of work into it as it’s an ideal route to keep people off the dangerous road.”
Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust
Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust (PKCT) is an independent charity whose main aim is to improve and promote access to the countryside for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. PKCT negotiates access to land, builds footpaths, helps care for Scotland’s most spectacular woodlands and trees and works on conservation projects. The Cateran Trail, featuring 64 miles of beautiful scenery and picturesque villages, is managed by PKCT and was recently featured in The Guardian’s 10 best long-distance walks with overnight stays in Britain. PKCT is part-funded by Perth & Kinross Council and the Gannochy Trust, with regular funding support from Tactran, and delivers around £1-2 million-worth of projects each year.
Provost Walk, Auchterarder
Peter Quinn, PKCT’s Trust Director, says that Tactran’s assistance enabled them to begin the work on the first phase of Provost Walk. The popular route in Auchterarder has undergone a radical transformation from a muddy walkway to a modern, multi-user path suitable for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users.
“The third and final phase of the path opened in July,” says Peter, “and the total cost for all phases was £930,000. Tactran was one of several initial funders, awarding us £10,000 of the £19,000 required for the Phase 1 design.”
Railway Path, Auchterarder to Muthil
PKCT was instructed by Auchterarder Community Sports and Recreation group (ACSR) to carry out a feasibility study into a potential upgrade of the dismantled railway line path between Muthill and Auchterarder. Works began in 2018 to secure funding towards the study and to investigate possible contractors for the various surveys, consultations and design work. PKCT was successful in attracting funding from Tactran and start-up commenced late 2018, completing in September 2019.
“What we have finally achieved is an outline design, suitable to take to a development stage on behalf of the ACSR,” says Peter. “Any future progression on these results will be driven by ACSR. Again Tactran was instrumental in getting the project started, providing funding of over £50,000 for a feasibility study and the design phase. We appreciate that Tactran can’t fully fund every project but their support is very local and accessible, and they’re a great source of funding advice,” Peter adds.
Cycling and walking infrastructure from Bridge of Earn to Newburgh
There has long been a call for a safer walking and cycling route between these two communities. The Baiglie Straight (A912) connecting Bridge of Earn to Aberargie is especially hazardous due to the speed of traffic. PKCT is aiming to provide a dedicated safe walking and cycling route to enable safer everyday commutable journeys.
“We have submitted an application to Sustrans for the design phase,” says Peter, “and if successful we will be looking to Tactran to help us gain funding for the construction phase, as the whole project will cost around £2.5 million. Tactran is very helpful in putting us in the direction of other potential funders such as Tay Cities. It’s a very significant project as it will essentially link Perth to the Fife Coastal Path which stops at Newburgh.” That in turn will form part of a larger flagship PKCT project, the River Tay Way.
Blackford Paths Group / Blackford Community Council
Blackford Paths Group was set up in 2017 to take forward the findings of a feasibility study about developing a new accessible path in the area. Janet Law, Secretary of Blackford Community Council, says that, without Tactran’s support, getting funding for the study wouldn’t have been possible.
Janet, who was Chair at the time of the funding application, says, “We’re a very active village with many small community groups. However, because of our proximity to the A9, a major railway line and some large tranches of private land, it can be difficult to get out and about in the countryside, or actively travel to nearby communities. We need safe path access, including to our nearest big town, Auchterarder, and our nearest station at Gleneagles.
“I had received an email from Perth & Kinross Council about Tactran funding for paths. I contacted Tactran and we discussed commissioning a feasibility study. We had to raise match-funding within a short deadline and the team at Tactran gave me a lot of support to complete the match-funding applications. If not for their help, we wouldn’t have made the deadline. Tactran also put me in touch with a community in Stanley who had been awarded similar funding.
“The study would be a real opportunity for the community to maintain existing paths and develop a new one. The Community Council completed the main funding applications, again with Tactran’s help as well as great support from Perth & Kinross Council’s Greenspace Co-ordinator, Dave Stubbs. We were awarded £20,000. We commissioned the study, which was carried out to a very high standard by Crispin Hayes Associates.
“The feasibility study gives evidence to allow us to go to other funders. It demonstrates a need for utility travel routes. That means real people going to work, school, appointments and meetings in our nearest towns or via the station. These routes meet other goals, too, such as improving people’s physical fitness and reducing our carbon footprint.”
What’s next for Blackford?
“As we’re a small group, we persuaded a number of busy local activists to set up the Blackford Paths Group. They registered as a charity, so they could receive the funding. Crispin has recommended a particular path and has liaised with the landowner to make it even more suitable.
“Blackford Paths Group is now working, with fantastic support from Perth & Kinross Council, on developing a safe route from Blackford to Auchterarder. Tactran’s role was crucial in this project; without them it couldn’t have happened.”
ReDiscover Dundee – by bike or trike
ReDiscover Dundee is a local cycling project which enables people who have barriers to physical activity to enjoy cycling on eBikes or eTrikes. The initiative has a focus on the ageing population facing inactivity and isolation, inviting them to join in guided rides as a way to stay active and rediscover the local greenspaces.
Dr Viola Marx, Green Health Partnership Coordinator in Dundee, describes the project and how Tactran has supported it. “Graeme Brown from Tactran highlighted the funding opportunity to us. We got some electric tricycles through the Energy Savings Trust with Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action (formerly Volunteer Dundee) as the lead organisation. We now have eight eTrikes, two electric bikes and one trailer. We hope to extend the fleet with the next bid and we’ll get different sizes to cater for all.
“Through ReDiscover Dundee we’re targeting people with mobility issues and those who aren’t confident on bikes or who haven’t cycled before. We’re supporting inactive citizens to become active. The fact they’re electric is great, particularly as Dundee has a lot of hills. We have volunteer-led sessions every Sunday and hold outreach sessions during the week to engage with a range of community groups and local support services whose clients have expressed an interest in the activity, including Dundee City Council departments and NHS Tayside. Since the launch in December 2018 we’ve had 80 individual participants attending our weekly sessions, and there’s a waiting list already! We’re hoping to expand the coverage soon, with a second base in the west of the city.
“It’s accessible and fun to try – anyone who’s interested can book one of our bikes or trikes through Dial-OP Information Line (see number below). Participants can also sign up to ReDiscover Dundee through a Green Health Prescription, which involves GPs prescribing healthy pursuits and time in green spaces as an alternative or complement to medical treatment. People can borrow them as community bikes, too.”
How did Tactran help?
“Graeme Brown gave us a lot of advice on how to engage with different groups and how to create a suitable project for and with our communities, and how to set up a cycling-based community project, as we hadn’t done one before,” says Dr Marx. “Tactran also helped us with putting together a funding bid, and we have received in-kind contributions from Volunteer Dundee, Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside, DVA and more. Marianne Scott [Regional Cycle Training & Development Officer at Cycling Scotland and Tactran] has also been very supportive. Now that we’re thinking of the second application for the project, she’s helping us overcome barriers, such as potential size differences of bikes, or grips, and different pedals for client groups with different needs. Graeme and Marianne have always been there with great support and guidance.”
What are the benefits?
“ReDiscover Dundee helps people get out and about and connect with the greenspaces through physical activity. The Green Health Prescription, which we’re piloting in three surgeries in Dundee and other NHS services, means that GPs, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can refer people for outdoor physical activity. We have many people with chronic pain, arthritis, COPD, or people who struggle with weight and are unable to walk for longer stretches. Even people who use zimmer frames can easily ride a trike. It’s gentle exercise for their legs, they’re sitting upright (which is more comfortable than on a regular bike) and it’s a social thing which is very important, especially for older people. It takes them back to their youth, in a way!
“Other people using our eTrikes may currently use a ‘normal’ bike and are still quite active, but notice that they’re getting older so they might want to transition soon to a trike, so they can keep cycling in the future.”
ReDiscover Dundee is managed by Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action, with the support of the Dundee Green Health Partnership and funding from Energy Saving Trust. For more information, contact Dial-OP Information Line on 01382 305757 or email [email protected].
Bikes for medical staff in Dundee
Two new bikes have been made available for all staff at a medical hub in Dundee, thanks to a new and exciting initiative. Whitfield GP Surgery hopes that the new bikes will help staff stay healthy and inspire patients to engage in cycling. To buy the bikes, the health centre worked with Tactran on a successful funding bid from Cycling Scotland’s Cycling Friendly Employer Development Fund (CFEDF) 2019/20.
Dr Viola Marx, Green Health Partnership Coordinator in Dundee, says, “We’re now awaiting the bikes and the storage solution for them. When they’re in place, the staff, including the GPs, will be able to use them for commuting to work, and from work to other locations. Some of the staff are also on rotation working in different surgeries on different days, so they will be able to cycle between workplaces.” Through the CFEDF, Whitfield surgery at the Crescent Community Centre received two bikes, bike storage for use by patients, staff and visitors, and maintenance equipment.
How did Tactran support this project?
“Graeme Brown, Sustainable Transport Strategy Officer at Tactran, has always been there to support us and answer all our cycling- and funding-related questions. Whenever there is a stumbling point Graeme helps us overcome our barriers. Marianne Scott [Regional Cycle Training & Development Officer at Cycling Scotland and Tactran] highlighted the Cycling Friendly Employer funding to us in the first instance. As the GPs have previously expressed an interest to use eBikes, this was the perfect opportunity. We met and discussed what we could do with it, whether it’s a good idea and how to go about it. She always has good ideas and lots of useful project experience.”
What are the benefits of this project?
“The first benefit is that we’re supporting NHS staff to be more active,” says Dr Marx. “Although all of the surgery staff are on their feet a lot, it’s not the same as exercise. Cycling for work is a chance to use the time that they would spend in a car to be active. It increases their physical activity levels and helps to reduce stress levels.
“Secondly, the medical staff have the chance to be role models for the community. Seeing that the NHS Tayside team is not just telling you to do something but actually doing it, too, can be powerful. It’s a new and different approach. As the Whitfield GPs are part of the Green Health Prescription programme, too, they can encourage some of their patients to become more active, and luckily ReDiscover Dundee is based not far away from the surgery. The prescription acts as a signposting or a referral to all the activities. It all ties together nicely.”
Links and Contacts
Here are some links to organisations mentioned in this month’s blog:
- Angus Council
- Blackford Community Council
- Blackford Paths Group
- Cycling Scotland’s Cycling Friendly Employer Development Fund
- Cycling UK Scotland
- Dundee City Council
- Energy Savings Trust
- Green Health Prescription
- Paths for All
- Perth & Kinross Council
- ReDiscover Dundee
- Sidlaw Path Network
- Tactran – Road Transport Partnership for Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling
- Volunteer Dundee / Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action
In December we’ll be introducing the new Chair of Tactran’s board and bringing you exciting news of developments at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, which is expanding access to active travel, improving its infrastructure and pathways and easing parking issues. Visit the Tactran blog to find out more, and follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.
– Blackford Images – © Blackford Community Council
– PKCT Provost Walk – ©PKCT, Mike Bell, Photos by Zoe
– Pitnappie Cutting – © David Martin
– ReDiscover Dundee
Tactran is one of seven statutory Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs) covering Scotland. The Tactran region forms an important hub at the heart of Scotland's transport network and includes the local authority areas of Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling. Together these make up just under 10% of Scotland’s land mass and nearly 12% of the nation’s population.
Our primary purpose is to develop a Regional Transport Strategy setting out a vision for the medium- to long-term future of transport in the area and to oversee its implementation.