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Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust - A Valuable Local Asset for All

Getting people outside is good for you, your staff, your customers and your business.  

When it comes to economic development, most people don’t think about walking a footpath.  However, footpaths are a very effective way of boosting the local economy. Perth and Kinross has one of the most extensive path networks in Scotland, which annually generates over £3.5 million for the local economy. The two most popular paths – The Hermitage and Queen’s View – are the area’s top visitor attractions bringing in over 500,000 visitors a year between them.

Ossian's Hall, Hermitage, Dunkeld (c) PKCT

 

This is why, in 1997, Perth and Kinross Council, The Gannochy Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) founded Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust (PKCT). PKCT works to increase access to the countryside and make Perth and Kinross the destination in Scotland for visitors looking to enjoy the countryside.

As an independent charity, PKCT brings together partnerships spanning public bodies, private landowners and local communities. PKCT also accesses funds from the National Lottery, charitable trusts, grant schemes and businesses, often doubling or tripling the amount of money available for projects via match funding.

PKCT’s major projects include working with communities across Perthshire; managing the Cateran Trail, Perthshire Big Tree Country and the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme; and developing the River Tay Way.

BIrks of Aberfeldy (c) PKCT

 

PKCT works with communities to establish local path networks and develop and improve community links that promote low-carbon, active travel and help improve physical and mental health. In 2019, PKCT finished work on the Provost Walk in Auchterarder, completing over £1 million of path upgrade work in and around the village.  The Cateran Trail is one of Scotland’s Great Trails at 64 miles long that loops through East Perthshire and the Angus glens. It has been dubbed “the sort of Scotland walkers dream of” by The Great Outdoors Magazine and one of the 10 best long-distance walks with overnight stays in Britain by the Observer.

Each year, the Trail attracts over 8,000 visitors and generates over £200,000 for the local economy. It is also the venue for the Cateran Yomp charity race, an annual 24-hour challenge held each June, which has so far raised over £1 million for the Soldiers Charity. By 2023, PKCT would like to double the number of walkers on the Trail and further boost the economy as we celebrated 20 years of the Trail in September 2020.

Perthshire has some of the most remarkable trees and woodlands in Europe and the greatest concentrations of ‘Champion Trees’ in the Britain and Ireland. In 2001, PKCT, FCS, The Woodland Trust, VisitScotland and Perth and Kinross Council formed Perthshire Big Tree Country (PBTC) to promote these wonders. The partnership secured £1.8 million of Lottery funding to deliver improvements across 20 sites. Annually, this investment still generates over £1.8 million for the Perthshire economy and helps educate people on the importance of frees and woodlands in the fight against climate change.

View from the Knock, Crieff (c) Perthshire Picture Agency

 

PBTC owes much of its magnificence to Victorian plant hunters whose expeditions brought exotic trees from around the world back to enhance the landscape of Perthshire. Very little planting of the next generation of exotic trees has taken place over the past 160 years to ensure PBTC maintains its magnificence. To remedy this, PKCT teamed up with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and FCS in 2008 to establish the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme (formerly the iCONic project).

Through RBGE, seeds from some of the world’s most threatened conifers are collected and grown into saplings. PCCP then finds safe-havens in PBTC for these young trees. PCCP builds on the legacy of the Victorian plant hunters, enhancing PBTC with rare and exotic conifers while making a major contribution on global efforts to protect some of the world’s most threatened trees from extinction. To date, over 1,000 saplings of threatened tree species have been planted.

The River Tay Way (RTW) is a proposed new, linear long-distance route of approximately 50 miles / 80 km from Kenmore to Perth with separate designated courses for cycling and walking. The walking route follows existing designated core paths, and the cycling route follows National Cycle Route 77 (NCN 77) and NCN 7. Ultimately, the route could extend westward to the West Highland Way and eastward to Dundee and the new Fife Pilgrim Way. The intention is to create the RTW through a ‘daisy chain’ of community links that enable residents and visitors to undertake low-carbon, active travel and together create a longdistance leisure route through some of Scotland’s finest scenery.

The River Tay Way would also generate additional business for these communities as well as for Perth and Kinross overall. This long-distance trail is scheduled to open in 2020 during the Year of Coasts and Waters.

Kinnoull Hill (c) Colin Bell

 

Support from local businesses has been a fundamental part of PKCT’s success in supporting the local economy.

Under the Supporting Big Tree Country scheme, PKCT have received over £350,000 from the supporting hotels: Gleneagles, Dunkeld House Hotel, Crieff Hydro and Ballathie House Hotel. They have collected a voluntary donation from each of their overnight stays towards the work PKCT does to enhance PBTC.

PKCT is looking to build its network of hotel, B&B and other business supporters. Means of collecting donations include voluntary donations from overnight stays, on restaurant bills, via collection box, etc. There are also opportunities for businesses to support the Cateran Trail, become a core or match funder, sponsor a route or tree, become a founding supporter of the River Tay Way, support marketing and promotions, or via legacies. If you are a business and would like to become a PKCT supporter, we would love to hear from you.

In return, PKCT will work with you to generate additional publicity for your business, boost your green credentials and increase staff knowledge through staff development and familiarisation trips.

More information about PKCT, our work and how to contact us can be found at www.pkct.org.

Peter Quinn – Trust Director | peter.quinn@pkct.org

 

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