Controversial work that will close part of the Great Glen Way has started.
The first phase of a new £21 million water treatment works is now underway with ESD, Scottish Water’s alliance partner, laying a 344 yard drilled twin pipe at the top of canal locks in Fort Augustus.
As a result a section of the lower route of the Great Glen Way is to be closed off as a safety precaution over the winter months as work is conducted, with diversions being put in place.
The work is expected to last around six months and means keen adventurers will face a change of terrain along the 79-mile route as diversions will see access shift to the higher trail during closures.
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Paul Webster, co-founder at Walk Highlands, said: “To most people we would recommend the higher level route for a more scenic walk. The higher level route is far superior. It is a bit hillier but it does have better views and isn’t so enclosed in the forestry so it shouldn’t be a problem to most people.”
Kelton Bennett, ESD’s project manager, said: “We are pleased to have started with the first stage of construction in what will be a significant project for the area.
“The river and canal crossing in Fort Augustus is a key link in the village’s water network. The new twin crossing will be drilled about 10 metres beneath the bed of the canal and the river, providing a big improvement to security of supply for Scottish Water customers in advance of our other work.”
Last month consultations took place with local residents and businesses to address any concerns community members had.
Scottish Water Corporate Affairs Manager Gavin Steel said: “In advance of the project commencing, public information events were held at both Invermoriston and Fort Augustus to discuss and gather feedback on measures to help mitigate impacts of the works on local communities, businesses and users of the Great Glen Way. Following this a number of measures will be put in place as the project progresses through the next phases of the work.”
A phased approach is to be implemented while work is conducted to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum with a short local diversion being put in place while work is carried out on the initial section of the Great Glen Way, south-west of Allt na Criche.
Mr Steel added: “We have agreed that all sections of the route will be made safe and re-opened for normal use over the Christmas holiday period.
Completion of the project is set for 2020, with the new facility located south of Invermoriston, and promises to provide both communities with a high quality supply of drinking water.