The route dubbed the “Platinum Jubilee Coastal Path” aims to construct a continuous coastal path around Aberdeenshire and will run for around 90 miles taking in 30 settlements and scenery including castles, stacks, beaches, and waterfalls. While many sections already exist, vital stretches are needed to join them together.
The idea was stimulated by the work of MERCHAT (Mearns Coastal Heritage Group), affiliated to Tangleha Artists Collective. Working closely with Aberdeenshire Council, the group have been upgrading and restoring part of the route since 2018.
Scotland’s national walking charity, Paths for All champions the work of MERCHAT and played an integral part in the beginning of the project, providing funding as well as advice on the methodology for the routes and rock armour protection.
Funding was used to design signage boards which volunteers then helped to install - contributing to the ongoing success and helping share the route’s history.
The group started after the path was severely damaged by storms and coastal erosion due to being neglected for a number of years. MERCHAT is dedicated to enhancing and restoring the path from St Cyrus to Johnshaven. They hope that eventually the path will extend beyond St Cyrus to reach from North Water Bridge in Aberdeenshire to Cullen in Moray as part of the “Platinum Jubilee Coastal Path”.
Charis Duthie, MERCHAT Project Manager said: “The group came together to ensure the coastal route was not lost. We’ve focused on making a sustainable resource bringing economic benefits as well as creating a place for socialising, exercising and clearing your mind.
“A lot of hard work has gone into the project to make a meaningful difference. We have constructed all improvements with the highest environmental considerations, while ensuring the accessibility was a key consideration at each stage.
“The route has already benefited the local community by providing paths to link the settlements, and has helped put the area on the tourist map, bringing much welcomed visitors.
“We’re delighted to be marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by naming the route on behalf of the celebration, it’s a fantastic way to highlight all the hard work.”
The key focus over the next 10 years is to extend and enhance missing stretches of the coastal paths by building capacity in local communities to identify and take forward their own projects with the intention to facilitate the creation of a continuous route.
The Lord Lieutenant for Kincardineshire, Alastair Macphie, has championed the initiative to extend the path, and believes it is key to enhancing the facilities for residents, visitors and local businesses.
He said: “Through marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we hope that the project will leave a lasting legacy within the region and help communities come together.
“The Path will quickly become a valuable asset for tourism and social capital in the area, making it vital that we continue trying to provide the project with the dedicated resources it needs to move forward.”
The Regional Coastal Path Project began in 2009 with many sections already being completed. The group hopes to extend and enhance the coastal path further in the next 10 years through collaboration with Paths for All, Aberdeenshire Council, community groups and landowners.
Richard Armstrong, Senior Development Officer at Paths for All said: “This coastal path is an outstanding example of what community groups can do when they come together.
“It’s inspiring to see groups like MERCHAT, coming together and devoting their time to improve and restore such a valuable asset and create accessible routes.
“Through improving paths like this, it will contribute to our ambition of encouraging Scots to walk every day and everywhere, helping improve their physical, mental and social wellbeing.”