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Wick volunteers complete upgrade of Newton Hill path – local mum delighted she can push her pram up the hill safely now


By David G Scott

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Volunteers from Wick Paths Group (WPG) have completed the upgrade of a popular path from the town boundary up to Newton Hill – a distance of over 600 metres.

Halley Gray, a local mum, said she was delighted to be able to push her pram up the hill safely now after the work was finished.

Halley said on her Facebook page: "This Mummy with her pram was delighted! Thanks so so much to all involved and for their hard work. It's brilliant to be able to walk up and down safely now

"You really need to walk the path to appreciate the scale of this project."

Haley Gray pushing her pram up Newton Hill which she says was 'impossible' before the recent work to refurbish the path was carried out. Beside her are from left, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Paul McQuade BAM, and Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure.
Haley Gray pushing her pram up Newton Hill which she says was 'impossible' before the recent work to refurbish the path was carried out. Beside her are from left, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Paul McQuade BAM, and Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure.

With the autumnal sun low in the sky at the moment, drivers can be blinded by the light as they travel up the hill and fatal accidents have occurred in the past on the same stretch. Thanks now to the efforts of WPG along with various contractors the path has been widened and 80 tons of stone laid down to make it much easier for pedestrians.

From left are John Bogle, secretary of Wick Paths Group, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Willie Watt chairman of Wick Paths Group, Paul McQuade BAM, and Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure.
From left are John Bogle, secretary of Wick Paths Group, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Willie Watt chairman of Wick Paths Group, Paul McQuade BAM, and Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure.

WPG contacted SSEN Transmission, which is currently building the HVDC switching station at Noss Head, to ask for its support. The SSEN construction manager is local man Andrew Henderson who readily agreed to help. Along with Alan Chalmers, site manager with Global Infrastructure, they supplied the labour and machinery required to scrape off encroaching vegetation which had reduced the path to single file.

The work was undertaken one Saturday morning by two local Global employees, Alexander Liston and Ian Macleod, who gave up their weekend off to undertake the work along with some help from Andrew himself.

The path up Newton Hill before the work was carried out.
The path up Newton Hill before the work was carried out.
Work being carried out to improve the path up Newton Hill.
Work being carried out to improve the path up Newton Hill.

Although the path was now wide enough the surface was quite rough for walking and wheeling on. The Paths Group decided to apply a layer of fine quarry stone to the path and Andrew asked Tadhg Deasy, BAM Project Manager if they would donate the 80 tonnes of stone required for the path.

Tadhg and his site team arranged for the stone to be delivered to the site. With the help of local businesses – MM Miller who loaned two dumper trucks, GMR Henderson who loaned one dumper truck and Subsea 7 who loaned a tractor and trailer, digger and roller the stone was laid and rolled by 17 volunteers on a Sunday afternoon. A small section of the path was finished off by the Tuesday with the help of volunteers from the Friends of Newtonhill Community Woodland.

Volunteers get to work to lay down the stones for the path on Newton Hill.
Volunteers get to work to lay down the stones for the path on Newton Hill.

WPG secretary, John Bogle, said “This is a very well used path by walkers, runners and cyclists but it had become badly overgrown and in parts it was barely wide enough for one person to walk on it. It is now a much wider smooth path which can easily accommodate two people walking abreast as well as being much easier for prams and wheelchairs.

The stone chips are flattened down with a roller that was loaned by Subsea 7.
The stone chips are flattened down with a roller that was loaned by Subsea 7.

"The path is now much safer, as previously walkers were often forced out onto the road. We are extremely grateful to SSEN Transmission, BAM and Global Infrastructure for scraping out the path then supplying the stone to finish the job. We would also like to thank the local businesses who once again came to our aid by lending equipment free of charge – MM Miller, GMR Henderson and Subsea 7.

The Newton Hill path was very narrow before work was carried out.
The Newton Hill path was very narrow before work was carried out.
The refurbished path up Newton Hill can now take two-abreast walkers as well as mums with prams.
The refurbished path up Newton Hill can now take two-abreast walkers as well as mums with prams.

"It was also extremely helpful that Alan Ross allowed the use of his land for parking. Of course none of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of our volunteers – 17 of them turned out on a Sunday in November and worked hard with extremely good humour.

"Within a few minutes of us finishing on Sunday the path was being used by two-abreast walkers, joggers and a mum pushing her pram. We are also grateful to the volunteers from Newtonhill Community Woodland who finished off a short section of the path on Tuesday.”

Seventeen selfless volunteers turned up one Sunday afternoon to help lay the upgraded path up Newton Hill.
Seventeen selfless volunteers turned up one Sunday afternoon to help lay the upgraded path up Newton Hill.

WPG chairman, Willie Watt said “It was a brilliant result, I would like to pass on my thanks to all volunteers who made this link path a whole lot safer for users – a mammoth task completed with humour, hard work and team spirit.”

Local residents at Newton Hill were also delighted at the improved path with Lyndsay Doull saying: “What a difference – it was a pleasure to walk the path with my two boys, thanks very much to all involved.”

From left are, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Paul McQuade BAM, Willie Watt chairman of Wick Paths Group, Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure, and John Bogle, secretary of Wick Paths Group.
From left are, Andrew Henderson SSEN Transmission, Paul McQuade BAM, Willie Watt chairman of Wick Paths Group, Kevin Macnicol Global Infrastructure, and John Bogle, secretary of Wick Paths Group.

Billy Nicolson said: “As a local resident and user of Newton Hill path, I would like to congratulate Wick Paths Group for the great job they did in widening and upgrading the path. It had become overgrown to such an extent people were choosing to walk on the road. It is now a comfortable two-person width with a lovely smooth surface for pushchairs, bikes and walkers."

SSEN, BAM, Global, and WPG 3 helped with the path project.
SSEN, BAM, Global, and WPG 3 helped with the path project.

Andrew Henderson, SSEN Transmission construction manager, said: “Working with the local community is really important to us, and we were delighted to be able to assist the Wick Paths Group along with volunteers from Global Infrastructure in clearing a section of the popular path at Newton Hill recently. We’re pleased that the whole path is now complete and is being well used by the community.”

Numerous congratulatory messages were also posted on the Group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RoyalBurghofWick


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