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A man who carried his best friend’s ashes as he walked a section of the Kintyre Way in 2016 to fulfill a deathbed promise has told the Courier he is ‘devastated’ to discover the route in a state of disrepair.
John Ramage promised his childhood best friend Brian Burns that he would carry him the rest of the way after they failed to complete the newest section of the 100-mile route before Brian became unwell and eventually passed away from cancer in February 2016. In April that year John fulfilled his promise, completing the route to Southend and the Mull of Kintyre.
John said: ‘This was Brian’s favourite walk – he did lots, including the West Highland Way, but he loved this one. He loved the sea, and the islands and the diversity. It’s tremendous.’
John returns to walk the Kintyre Way every year around the anniversary of Brian’s death as he believes it keeps his friend’s memory alive, but during his most recent visit, in September, he was shocked to discover overgrown paths, decayed way-markers and collapsed bridges.
He took his brother with him, to show him the route, which is also one of John’s favourite walks.
He said: ‘We ended up walking on the road to get away from the nettles and briars at Tayinloan. It’s dangerous because that’s a fast bit of road. I was telling him there used to be a path in places but we couldn’t see one because it was so overgrown.
‘It means so much to me because of my mate and I’ll be up again next year, but it puts you off.’
John, who runs a walking club in Scotstoun, believes the route needs to be better promoted and supported by the local community.
‘Walkers can stay in Carradale or Clachan, for example, so hotels should support the Kintyre Way,’ he said. ‘It opens up the islands like Gigha and Arran as well. If the walk is not maintained, people won’t do it, and that’s a lost opportunity.’
The company which formerly administered the Kintyre Way, The Long and Winding Way Ltd, closed down in 2016 due to financial difficulties.
Alan Milstead, convener of the Kintyre Way, the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation which now maintains the route, told the Courier he sympathised with John. He said that one of the reasons for the route’s decline was ‘poor buy-in’.
He added: ‘Another major issue is that the website URL was in the care and control of one of the creators and he has refused to relinquish it, so we’ve lost the established website. However we have been working on a new website – now active at www.thekintyreway.com – and we are looking to incorporate a problem reporting system.
‘We’ve had good support from Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry and Land Scotland and another few charities but we were turned down by two local funds and we just haven’t been able to maintain the upkeep as a result.
‘Looking forward, however, we remain positive about the future of the Kintyre Way.’
Alan added that anyone who wishes to help or support the Kintyre Way can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.