THE managers of Scotland’s 29 Great Trails heard about plans to develop a new web portal promoting the country’s best long-distance walks when they gathered in Arrochar last week.

Author Jaquetta Megarry, the creator of the Rucksack Readers guidebook, spoke to the trail managers at their regular forum about her hopes of setting up a single website to promote Scotland’s Great Trails to walkers from Scotland and beyond.

The meeting, held at the Three Villages Hall, was also attended by four officials from Scottish Natural Heritage and by VisitScotland’s regional director, David Adams McGilp.

Among the Great Trail representatives at the meeting were John and Anne Urquhart, of the Helensburgh and District Access Trust (HDAT), who were there representing the Three Lochs Way, Helensburgh and Lomond’s popular “home grown” great trail, which begins in Balloch and takes walkers past Loch Long, the Gare Loch and Loch Lomond, via Helensburgh, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, en route to the northern finishing point at Inveruglas.

Mr Urquhart said: “This is a regular meeting where Great Trail route managers can share ideas, discuss solutions to problems and hear about the latest developments in this fast developing field which is of increasing importance to Scotland’s tourism economy.

“These trails are very important to Helensburgh and Lomond as no less than three of them terminate in our area – the Cowal Way and Three Lochs Way both finish at Inveruglas, while the John Muir Way starts at Helensburgh and the Three Lochs Way begins at Balloch. The Three Lochs Way also passes through Helensburgh.”

Scotland’s 29 Great Trails cover walking routes from the Mull of Galloway, the country’s southernmost point, to the Moray coast in the north.

They include four “source to sea” trails, eight coastal trails, six historical walks, two canal towpaths, two old railway lines and some of the country’s most famous mountain and loch routes, including the West Highland Way, Southern Upland Way and Great Glen Way.

The HDAT has recently used a grant from Argyll and Bute Council to help three of its volunteers gain a qualification in dumper driving.

The three trainees – John Urquhart, Pete Ashton and Tony Dance – are now able to undertake path reconstruction and repair work, rather than the trust having to bring in an outside contractor. The training was provided by Alistair Millar of A.M. Training.