National park bosses will have the ultimate say on an expansion of one of the north-east’s most popular walking and cycling routes.
Proposals have been lodged to extend the Deeside Way, which currently runs from Aberdeen through to Ballater, all the way to Braemar.
The 6ft wide extension would tag almost three more miles onto the former railway line, which is a hot spot for runners, dog walkers and cyclists.
The Outdoor Access Trust Scotland had submitted the proposals to Aberdeenshire Council but the scheme was subsequently called in by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
The organisation has the power to call in any planning application which has a “significant impact” on the landscape of the Cairngorms or the overall aims of the park authority.
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The current route follows the old line from the city to Banchory and then diverts off onto a path for a further 10 miles until it reaches Dess and goes back onto the line to Ballater.
Over the past 20 years there have been upgrades to the existing way and in 2014, a feasibility study was carried out by the park authority into the proposed extension with a survey also carried out by the trust last year.
Much like the other sections of the path, there will be exits off to different communities along the way.
The trust believes the route will greatly increase tourism to the Deeside area with cycling and walking among the most popular pursuits in the national park area.
It will also provide a safe off-road path west of Ballater.
A report prepared by the trust adds: “The Deeside Way extension will be an invaluable asset to Deeside as a tourist attraction and key infrastructure link connecting Braemar, and communities further down the Dee valley, with a safe, off-road route to the east.
“The proposed section from Bridge of Dee through to Braemar will be the first link in developing the route towards Ballater over the coming years.”