Glasses were raised yesterday as a major upgrade of a popular whisky route was finally completed.
Walkers gathered to celebrate the opening of the Speyside Way Spur path linking Glenlivet and Tomintoul.
The Accessing the Landscape Project has made extensive improvements to the 15-mile route that will enhance the walking experience along the long-distance path.
The works, costing £236,000, involved upgrading and repairing wet and muddy sections, improving path drainage and surfaces along with formalising a long-standing diversion at Tombreckachie.
It also included the removal of most boardwalks and replacing them with a raised path.
Stiles and ‘chain gates’ have been replaced with pedestrian self-closing gates, and new signage installed.
This will add to the wider improvements being made to the Speyside Way long-distance path which is currently being extended to Newtonmore through the Cairngorms National Park.
The project, led by the Cairngorms National Park Authority with support from the Glenlivet Walking Group is another key milestone delivered through the Tomintoul & Glenlivet Landscape Partnership, a £3.6m programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to regenerate the area.
To recognise this achievement, a celebration event was held at Glenlivet Distillery, hosted by Chivas Brothers.
The project team and key partners gathered at nearby Blairfindy Moor to officially open the upgraded route, while walking groups and local residents enjoyed a leisurely walk along the footpath.
CNPA chief executive Grant Moir said: “The Speyside Way is a key strategic route connecting different parts of the National Park.
“This project will add to the outdoor access opportunities available, helping people to experience and enjoy this part of the park, with added benefits to health, as well as to the local communities.“
Steve Smith, chairman of Tomintoul & Glenlivet Landscape Partnership, added “This is another significant project delivered through the TGLP.
“The path is now in a much better condition and will make a huge difference to people’s enjoyment of the route. We hope it will encourage more people to visit the area, helping to contribute to its regeneration”.
Brian Fowler, from the Glenlivet Walking Group, added “The upgraded path will be a huge asset to the area, not only for local people but also for visitors who we hope will be encouraged to come and explore Tomintoul and Glenlivet.
“This upland part of the Speyside Way will give walkers a unique experience of the changing landscapes found here, with spectacular views from Carn Daimh across Glenlivet to the Braes, and over to Ben Avon and the Cairngorms.”