PHASE one of the Three Lochs Way improvement project was unveiled on Monday with the opening of Glen Mallan bridge and launch of a new guide book. The �29,000 project, funded by Helensburgh and District Access Trust, Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Love Loch Lomond and Argyll and Bute LEADER programme, was officially opened by Lt Col Donald Ross who recently retired from Garelochhead Training Camp.

The bridge is dedicated to the memory of Dave Markland, a Gurkha Officer who helped the Trust with the planning of the Gurkha Bato - a road constructed by Gurkha Engineers which forms an important part of the 55km walking route to the south of the bridge - but who was killed in Afganistan in 2010.

The 18 month work has been carried out with assistance from the Helensburgh Round Table, and included moving three redundant footbridge beams from Duchess Woods in Helensburgh and reinstalling them in Glen Mallan. Contractors Signs and Paths Co then installed the bridge and improved the approaches.

Information panels on the Three Lochs Way, which show visitors where they can access the footpath, were also unveiled at the Three Villages Hall in Arrochar with special guest outdoor enthusiast and folk singer Jimmie Macgregor.

Anne Urquhart, from Helensburgh and District Access Trust, told the Advertiser: "We are delighted to finish the first phase. Jimmie Macgregor gave us a glowing accolade for our guide book which we are thrilled about. It has been an intense 18 months but we are looking forward to moving on to phase two now."

The Three Lochs Way is one of Scotland's greatest trails and links the communities of Balloch, Cardross, Helensburgh, Rhu, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Inveruglas.

The route passes through some of the finest scenery in the West of Scotland, much of which is in the National Park. It offers outstanding views over Loch Lomond, The Firth of Clyde, Loch Long and the Arrochar Alps.

An iPhone and Android mobile phone app has also been delivered by the project with maps which allow walkers to find their way without the need for internet access/GPS.

Phase two of the project will improve and upgrade the section between the top of Helensburgh and Glen Fruin - known as the missing link - the 1.7km of boggy moor will be upgraded and completed over the summer months.