A bid to transform an overgrown and forgotten rail line into a new £750,000 link between Dingwall and Strathpeffer has taken a major step forward.
Community representatives have lodged a full planning application with Highland Council for the long-awaited path project.
Local residents have been trying for decades to find a safe and easy route between the two communities that can be used by visitors, walkers, children and cyclists.
The Press and Journal reported in August that an action group called The Peffery Way Association had been established to try to finally turn the dream into a reality.
It has focussed the plans on an old rail line to a station at Strathpeffer, which closed in 1964 and now houses the Highland Museum of Childhood, shops and a cafe.
The association had already lodged initial applications for the project, and has now submitted detailed proposals to the local authority.
A supporting statement lodged with plans said: “Our goal is to create a low level foot/cycle path between Dingwall and Strathpeffer, and linking the communities between.
“This has been a long term aim of the communities in the strath for many years. The path will avoid people having to cross the busy A834 road or the Kyle to Inverness railway line.
“We hope that children and adults will use the path for their daily route to school and work.”
The group needs to secure planning permission so it can accelerate a major fundraising effort to secure £750,000.
It is hoped that the path, stretching nearly four miles and about 6ft wide, could be completed in 2018.
Separate plans exist to lay 0.8miles of track and erect a locomotive shed, platform, car park, canteen and toilets on part of the old rail line.
It is understood both applicants believe the two schemes can sit alongside each other.
A feasibility study into the project was carried out in 2009 into the path project and The Peffery Way Association was created last year to drive the scheme forward.