Ramblers Scotland members are celebrating the reopening of an important Fife path, which had been blocked for almost a year using locks, fences, anti-theft paint and four-inch nails.
The off-road route linking Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath is designated as a ‘core path’ by Fife Council, meaning it is one the area’s most important trails.
Yet last summer, walkers discovered that a gate had been locked where the track passes Newton farm, southwest of Lochgelly. The barricade was later reinforced using high wooden fencing, black anti-theft paint and exposed nails – contravening Scottish access rights.
Ramblers Scotland members have campaigned to get the path reopened, including writing to Fife Council and highlighting the problem in newspapers and on local radio.
Kirkcaldy Ramblers returned to the spot at the weekend and were delighted to find that the barricade was finally gone, with the gate unlocked.
Group member Elaine Collins said: “It is wonderful news – meaning that these two Fife towns are once again linked by a beautiful off-road route.
“We’re grateful to the media and local residents for helping all of us at Ramblers Scotland highlight this problem, which was making it harder for local people to enjoy the health and social benefits of walking.”
Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “While it’s a shame that this important route was ever blocked, the public response has once again emphasised how much people value their access rights in Scotland.
“We’re really pleased that this problem in Fife appears to be resolved. We will continue helping our local members across the country stand up for the rights of walkers, so everyone can make the most of our wonderful countryside.”
Cardenden walker Chris Mercer fell while trying to bypass the gate last summer and suffered a painful hip injury.
Mrs Mercer said: “I’m so happy that the path’s been reopened and hope it stays that way, so that everyone will once again be able to safely enjoy what is a lovely, popular route.”
Describing her fall, she said: “I landed awkwardly. I was in agony and couldn't continue on our planned walk, so I ended up hobbling to the bus stop about 20 minutes away.
“I visited my doctor after the fall and in February this year I needed to have a hip replacement. I might have needed a hip replacement at some point anyway, but I feel this incident could have been avoided and that it accelerated the need to operate.”
Ramblers Scotland has spoken with council’s access team, which welcomed the reopening of the route - shown here on the Fife core path plan, marked 507.
More than 1,000 people have pledged support since Christmas for Ramblers Scotland’s efforts to put all 17,000km of Scottish core paths on to Ordnance Survey maps.