Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Loch's heritage explored in trail

Mark Beaumont and children
Record-breaker Mark Beaumont and local children cycled the trail

Cyclists, joggers and walkers can now enjoy more of Loch Leven with the launch of a new heritage trail.

In total, 13.5km of off-road path now links 24 natural and cultural sites around the water in Kinross-shire.

The route cost 1.8m and took three years to plan and create, at what is the largest loch in lowland Scotland.

The official opening was attended by world record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont and local primary and secondary school children.

Neil Kilpatrick, Loch Leven Heritage Trail project director, said: "One of the joys of this trail is that it can accommodate people of all ages and all sorts of sporting abilities.

"We can take people jogging, people walking, people pushing children in their pushchairs and also, quite unusually, it's 13.5km of available trail for disabled people.

"We've got 24 sites around the loch which have been linked by the trail, these include built heritage, natural heritage, the cultural heritage and the sporting heritage.

It's not cycling around the world, but it was a beautiful ride
Mark Beaumont
Record-breaking cyclist

"Sporting heritage includes the fishing on the loch and also the curling, but there's some wonderful built heritage as well - Kinross House and Loch Leven Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and escaped."

Mr Kilpatrick estimates the trail will attract an extra 100,000 visitors to Loch Leven each year.

The track already has high-profile backing. Mr Beaumont, who cycled round the world in 195 days, told BBC Scotland he enjoyed the Kinross-shire ride.

"It's a fantastic route, not just for the cyclist but for the walkers and runners as well," he said.

"It's not cycling around the world, but it was a beautiful ride.

"We set out and it was chilly this morning, everyone was hurting for the first few miles but we loved it. I mean what a beautiful path."

The new trail does not go around the whole of the loch - there is a gap of about 6km which Scottish Natural Heritage does intent to complete.

However, before then, further studies of where the geese fly have to be undertaken, so not to disturb their route, and further negotiations with land owners have to be carried out.

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