A £1.4m Places for Everyone project on Islay is now complete. The Loch Indaal Way is a safe and accessible traffic-free path, joining the communities of Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. This new path offers a protected walking, wheeling and cycling route away from the A847 and its 60mph motor traffic.
The Loch Indaal Way provides a walking, wheeling and cycling link between the communities of Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich for the very first time. Credit: Sustrans.
The Loch Indaal Way joins the communities of Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich via a safe, accessible and traffic-free route.
Prior to this, the only link between the two communities was the A847 carriageway.
A national speed limit road which offers little protection to those walking wheeling and cycling.
The newly completed off-road route has already proved popular with local residents and business owners alike.
And its frequency of use is expected to greatly increase when tourists return to the island.
A vision to increase health and wellbeing
The Loch Indaal Way project was led by the Islay Community Access Group (ICAG).
A local network of volunteers with a vision to increase health and wellbeing through greater outdoor accessibility.
Patrick McGrann, Head of the ICAG, said:
“Our small voluntary group worked for six years to deliver The Loch Indaal Way.
“We are extremely proud of our new community asset.
“To see local folk and visitors of all ages and abilities enjoying access to the countryside is heartwarming.
“We have involved our community throughout and all have ownership and satisfaction of a job well done.”
The Loch Indaal Way provides 2.53km of traffic-free route between the Islay communities of Bruchladdich and Port Charlotte. Credit: Sustrans
Meeting the needs of the community
With the support of Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme, ICAG secured a large part of the funding to deliver the 2.53km path.
Sustrans and ICAG previously worked together to deliver the celebrated Three Distilleries Path at Port Ellen.
A popular 5km traffic-free route which takes in the Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries.
Emily Gait, Infrastructure Coordinator for Sustrans, said:
“The Loch Indaal Way is a great example of where a community have worked together to create a project which meets the needs of the people who live and visit the area.
“Inclusive designs and strong community backing have been key to the ultimate success of this project.
“Going forward, we hope this inspires other small communities across Scotland to nurture their own walking, wheeling and cycling ambitions.”
Children from Port Charlotte Primary School have provided artworks of attractions along the route, including St. Kiaran’s Church and Loch Indaal House lighthouse. Credit: Islay Community Access Group
Growing local enthusiasm
From the outset, the proposals to create a new off-road walking, wheeling and cycling route between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich received encouraging community support.
Through a proactive and considered period of engagement, ICAG worked closely with local landowners to secure the land donations required to make the path a reality.
The local Bruichladdich Distillery also became involved in the promotion and funding of the project.
The distillery has even entered into a maintenance agreement with ICAG, to ensure that the path stays safe and accessible for all users.
AJ Cunningham, Operations Manager at Bruichladdich Distillery, said:
“Even before the path was finalised, it was being adopted by a lot of locals.
“And I don’t think this was out of them being inquisitive, either.
“It’s just a really enjoyable and risk-free way to walk where they didn’t have that option before.
“I don’t think it could’ve worked out any better unless you took it all the way out to Bridgend!”
Local enthusiasm for the project only grew as construction progressed.
The Loch Indaal Way allows users to take in the full beauty of the Islay coastline. Credit: Sustrans
An indispensable part of daily life
At an opening event in October 2021, children from Port Charlotte Primary School led a procession along The Loch Indaal Way from the Port Ban war memorial to Bruichladdich Town Hall.
They were joined on-route by local residents, members of ICAG, the local Baptist Minister and the Islay Pipe Band.
Six months after opening, The Loch Indaal Way is now an indispensable part of daily life on Islay.
A local group of swimmers use the path for convenient access to the beach during their weekly meet-ups.
Attendees of St Kiaran’s Church hold fortnightly walks along the path.
And a recently installed cycle repair station has also been well received by the community.
Ensuring daily errands, active commutes and leisure trips are able to be made with ease.