Creag Bheag rises above Kingussie on Speyside. As the name tells you, it’s a small hill rising to 487m. But it’s also “the jewel in the crown” of the town’s 20-mile path network, and will soon provide an even finer circular hill walk, thanks to support from the Trust.

Kingussie Community Development Company (KCDC) has won a £9000 SMT grant for work on the Creag Bheag path near the hill’s summit. It will bring these stretches up to the same standard as lower parts of the route. In particular, vegetation erosion near the hilltop will be contained and restored, and it’ll be easier for walkers to avoid a scramble up to the summit ridge.

It’s hoped the project will be completed in summer 2023. One thing that’s certain is that the path will be well used. The 3-mile walk is very popular locally, and it’s also liked by visitors, typically those who fancy a shorter day in between  big Cairngorm ascents.  It may not give a long day, but Creag Bheag’s summit views can be spectacular, looking north to the Monadhliath or south, past the town and beyond the Spey, to the main range of the Cairngorms.

Much of the project’s £12,000 budget will be spent on helicoptering in 100 tons of mineral dust from a nearby quarry, for path restoration. The work on the ground will be done by volunteers.

Volunteering is the normal way for work to be done on Kingussie’s paths, and for some years one of KCDC’s directors, Sandy Maxwell, has been recruiting, supervising and training a volunteer workforce. “We’ve got a pool of about 50”, Sandy told us. “At least half of them have been out in the last few months, and I’m sure that 10 or 12 folk will turn up  every Thursday – the normal day for pathwork. It’s really encouraging!”

Most of the 3-mile path crosses parts of Pitmain Estate, and Sandy pays tribute to the estate’s co-operation and support for path improvements over the years.

Sandy has 20 years’ experience of managing volunteers on path work, a lot of it with the John Muir Trust on places including Ben Nevis and Sandwood Bay.

The Kingussie paths group has been running for 15 years, and in 2022 it was recognised by Paths for All as Scottish Community Path Group of the Year, in a ceremony at the Scottish Parliament.

KCDC itself was founded in 2006 to help get the community hydro scheme at Strathlynn started. The hydro now benefits many local organisations every year including, in 2023, the Creag Bheag path project.

While this work on Creag Bheag does not have the stature of some of the path projects the SMT has supported on great mountains such as Suilven or An Teallach, it will provide multiple health and recreational benefits to a huge number of people in the community, visitors to the area and of course the volunteers themselves.  So it was an easy decision for the SMT to support the work..

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