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Friends of Blairs Loch building new community buildings and walkways at Forres beauty spot

By Garry McCartney

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The Stable Classroom under construction.
The Stable Classroom under construction.

CHARITY and volunteer group, Friends of Blairs Loch (FOBL), have further enhanced the beauty spot on the outskirts of Forres.

The group’s efforts over the last two years, opening up access around the loch, has received praise from an increasing number of visitors enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

FOBL trustee and treasurer, Brian Higgs, confirmed the latest stage of the project - building an outdoor learning facility and community meeting place - is currently taking shape.

He said: "We're very proud of what we've achieved so far and greatly appreciate the community support ... but this development will be a game changer!

"The facility, for use by schools and special interest groups, will be a wonderful community asset."

The buildings feature a classroom/meeting room and a separate toilet, wash room and storage space.

Use will be free of charge for schools but there will be a small usage fee for other groups to help pay for ongoing maintenance.

Brian said: "Whilst we tend to refer to the building as ‘The Stable Classroom’, we want it to be used by groups of all ages and interests. Walking, health and fitness groups, environmentalists, photographers, artists and even wedding parties will be welcome to hire the venue.

"This is about the whole community having the opportunity to enjoy their interests in an absolutely wonderful place.

"We are hoping the facility will be open for visitors in July."

Volunteers Mike Holder, Julia Mackay, Colin Mackay and Richard Jordon working on a new walkway.
Volunteers Mike Holder, Julia Mackay, Colin Mackay and Richard Jordon working on a new walkway.

The group has worked hard to open up new footpaths around the loch, allowing access to stunning vantage points, two of which now have bird hides on the southern and eastern banks.

The volunteers have also recently completed a wheelchair access path from the boathouse to the Swan bird hide.

Trustee Mike Sutherland explained: "When we built the bridge across to the small island on which the hide is located, we made sure it was designed to be suitable for wheelchairs.

"Unfortunately, the ground across to the hide was very rough and totally unsuitable so we made it a priority to construct a proper pathway.

"With sponsorship from local companies, and donations from friends, we got the materials and the volunteers put in the hard construction work. We hope to be able to make more of the loch accessible to wheelchairs, but this is an important start."

To find out more, join the volunteers or make a donation to the project, email fofblairsloch@gmail.com

The new wheelchair accessible footpath to the Swan bird hide.
The new wheelchair accessible footpath to the Swan bird hide.

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