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31 March, 2014

New long distance path could boost Mull economy

A proposed trail across Mull would attract new visitors to the island and could bring almost £1m a year into the local economy, according to a report published today (Monday 31 March) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

A proposed trail across Mull would attract new visitors to the island and could bring almost £1m a year into the local economy, according to a report published today (Monday 31 March) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The route would create a visitor attraction unique to the island and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more. It would also create opportunities to develop accommodation along the way and a wide range of other services matched to visitor needs, such as cafes, cycling supply shops and baggage transfer services.

If well designed and with the right services in place, the report estimates that the route could attract around 10,000 part-way walkers, 2,500 full length walkers and 1,000 cyclists each year, generating additional income of more than £900,000 a year. With proactive marketing and separate walking and cycling routes, the report says these figures could be significantly higher.

The report was welcomed by Ian Ross, a former forester on Mull who took over as chairman of SNH this week. He said: “Scotland’s growing network of trails is creating improved opportunities for people to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits associated with being outdoors. This in turn helps deliver Scottish Government targets to increase outdoor physical activity.

“We have been working with the Mull and Iona Community Trust to help develop their plans for the route and one of the great things about this proposal is that it has come from the local community. The people living here know that it is a special place and they want visitors to come and enjoy Mull and Iona’s spectacular environment for themselves.

“We commissioned this study to explore the potential social and economic benefits that a trail on the island could deliver. We are very keen to see more trails developed across the country to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors and generate income for rural economies.”

Moray Finch, from the Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), added: “Developing a pathway on the island which links the main ferryport at Craignure with the ferryport to Iona at Fionnphort, has been discussed in the community for several years. As well as the economic benefits it could bring, the path appeals to local people for a range of outdoors activities such as walking, jogging and cycling.”

Visitor demand for identifiable walking opportunities, better signed paths and safe cycling routes on the island were confirmed in the 2012 Mull and Iona Visitor Survey. The proposed route would connect directly with the Oban to Fort William section of the National Cycle Network. This section will link, via ferry, with the proposed Tyndrum to Oban path, which will in turn link to the West Highland Way. Work is currently ongoing to identify the best route for the Tyndrum path.

The report also says that promoting the trail as part of a longer pilgrimage route to St Andrews, as well as a standalone route, will help raise its profile and its status alongside other long distance routes such as the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way. Developing and promoting the route for a variety of activities and experiences, including cycling and sea-kayaking, could attract high levels of interest for challenges and events such as marathons and triathlons.

“The MICT will continue to work with SNH, to identify the most appropriate route which meets the aspirations of the community, is acceptable to land managers and provides an appealing user experience”, said Moray. “Ideally the route will be mostly off tarmac road, use existing infrastructure where possible and directly link villages on the island. We will shortly be arranging a series of workshops to further engage local people and businesses. We will also begin to consider the most appropriate name for the route”.


Contact information

Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media Relations Officer
01463 725157

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