Step forward for Gateway to Gigha project after £600k grant

The project will improve walking and cycle routes on Gigha.
The island of Gigha.

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A sustainable travel project aiming to improve walking and cycling access to the Isle of Gigha is one step closer to fruition thanks to a grant of almost £600,000 from the Scottish Government.

The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGHT), which is behind the Gateway to Gigha project, has been awarded more than £593,000 from Transport Scotland’s Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund.

The project, to which the IGHT is also contributing, has been awarded a further £228,100 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The cash will help deliver the construction and upgrading of paths spanning 8km – almost five miles – across the island.

New bikes and e-bikes will be available to hire next to the ferry slip to reduce the need for cars.

It is hoped that this will encourage and promote the sustainable use and protection of Gigha’s landscape and assets.

The funding will also help pay for a newly-created ‘island ranger’ position which will project manage the Gateway to Gigha initiative.

Jane Millar, IGHT business development manager, said: ‘With thanks to the support from the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government, Gigha will become more accessible.

‘By improving our foot and cycle path network and providing more information we aim to reduce the number of car-borne visitors to Gigha and ensure our visitors and residents know more about our environment, landscape and assets and how best to protect them.’

The project was one of 10 schemes to share £9.46 million of funding through the Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund, which has benefited from £7.21 million provided through the European Regional Development Fund.

The IGHT has also revealed that it has partnered with Argyll College University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to deliver a new opportunity for a Horticulture Modern Apprentice at the island’s famous Achamore Gardens.

Much loved by both island residents and visitors, Achamore Gardens are internationally renowned for the rhododendron collection and extensive gardens developed by Sir James Horlick in the middle of last century.

Following many years of decline, Achamore is now at the start of a major, multi-year restoration project, which will both respect the heritage and vision of Sir James’ original garden whilst reflecting the changing face of gardening in the 21st century with new features that will add to the visitor experience.

Apprentices were a key part of Achamore’s workforce historically, with one of the longest serving head gardeners starting out as the garden apprentice before working his way up the ladder.

The new two-year apprenticeship at Achamore will benefit from a high-quality training, developing skills across the gardening spectrum and being involved in all aspects of Achamore’s restoration whilst gaining academic qualifications delivered by Argyll College UHI’s horticulture department.

Bryony White, head gardener at Achamore, said: ‘By training up our own apprentices we can offer young people a high-quality training placement and bring more young people to the island which is great for the island’s economy. I hope that the Achamore apprentice programme will become a vibrant, ambitious and diverse programme, offering young people far more than just the bare minimum requirements and giving them the skills and future potential for a lifelong career in horticulture.’

The deadline for applications is Friday September 25 – for more information, visit www.gigha.org.uk