Funding success for John O'Groats Trail walking route
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The chairman of a north Highland walking route sent out a vote of thanks to all those who had helped with a fundraising appeal that surpassed its initial goal of £5000.
Chair of the John O'Groats Trail (JOGT), Jay Wilson, talked of his delight that the memorial fundraiser pushed past the target to reach its current total of £5060.
"I'm really thrilled, not only about the funding, but also for the support we've received from both the local community and the walking community," said Mr Wilson.
He went on to explain how the fundraising page had attracted donations from across the globe with many coming in from America. An anonymous donor also pledged to match fund the initiative if it managed to hit the £5k target.
The 147-mile long trail goes from Inverness to John O'Groats and passes along or near scenic areas of the east Highland coast. It provides community access to the significant cultural and natural heritage of the cliffs and seashore, while also developing walking tourism in the region.
To accelerate development of the route, a charity known as Friends of the John O'Groats Trail seeks to fund a two-year position to manage the route and raise "major funds" for capital projects such as bridges and boardwalks to improve the walking experience and keep users safe.
"Not only will your donation help move us towards this goal, it will also show major funding organisations that we have the grassroots support of the community," added Mr Wilson.
"We're going to set a follow-on goal of another £5000. We need funds to pay local people to do strimming and other forms of path maintenance – we can't do it all with volunteers."
Paying for specialist contractors and hire of equipment needs to be taken into account to keep the route free from bracken, weeds and foliage.
Mr Wilson also talked about a recent issue, covered by the paper, involving damage done to stiles crossing fences near Ulbster.
"It was all very unfortunate to see this vandalism occur but we're in discussion with the landowner and I'm hopeful we can have a positive outcome on the matter."
Apart from that, the trail has never been in better shape, he says.
"There are still a few barbed wire fences that need to be crossed and a few burns that don't yet have bridges. While most of it is now marked, there are still a few places where people report getting lost. The trail continues to be a work in progress."
JOGT is also looking raise funds to employ trail wardens to help maintain the route. Anyone interested in applying for the positions or seeking more information on walking the trail, volunteering, or donating should email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07526 281088. The website is at www.jogt.org.uk
Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/trail-developer-fundraiser
There is also a survey of trail users that can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/jogtrail