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21 Feb 2019

Stanley Hill footpath project

Written by Hannah Patterson
The team from Arran Footpath and Forestry Ltd in the octagon on the top of Stanley Hill
The team from Arran Footpath and Forestry Ltd in the octagon on the top of Stanley Hill
The first phase of a project that has been in the pipeline for over 10 years has finally been completed.

Stanley Hill Park is at the heart of the beautiful and historically rich town of Dunkeld. In 1689, soldiers fought on the hill during the second Jacobite Rising. And the site was part of a designed landscape for the Dukes of Atholl in the 18th century, but when they relocated their main home in 1828, Stanley Hill was left unmanaged and over the years became overgrown. 

The Trust accepted ownership of Stanley Hill Park in 1958, with the intention of protecting and restoring the hill and its surrounding area to its former glory. Previous work on the hill has focused on the ice house and retaining wall. But our priority – and biggest challenge – was to improve the heavily eroded footpaths on the terraces of the hill. After many years of research and planning, work on the footpaths began in November 2018. A team from Arran Footpath and Forestry Ltd worked closely with local Trust rangers to achieve vastly improved footpaths, which have been raised above the protruding tree roots while maintaining the original design of the terraces. Our main aim was to enable visitors to walk up from the north-east steps to the top terrace as well as improving access to the ice house.

The top terrace on the hill before
The top terrace on the hill before
The top terrace on the hill after work was completed
The top terrace on the hill after work was completed

With the first phase of restoration now complete, we’re looking forward to enhancing the area even further. Future projects include: completing the steps on the south-west side of the hill to link up with the improved paths; opening up the view from the top terrace out towards the north-west; installing signage outlining the site’s history; laying down coir matting to encourage regeneration; and establishing a wildflower meadow near the cathedral. We’re also hoping to install a bench on the top of the hill and wood-carved sculptures on the terraces. 

The footpath under construction
The footpath under construction
The new improved footpath
The new improved footpath

Dunkeld attracts large numbers of tourists all year round. Many will pass through Stanley Hill Park to reach the cathedral and the main street, so this site has huge potential to be a haven for both visitors and wildlife. We’d love visitors and local people to come and see Stanley Hill as it evolves and develops over time.

As a charity, the National Trust for Scotland relies on donations for projects like these to come to fruition. Becoming a member is a great way to support the Trust as it not only allows free entry to all our places, but also helps to fund conservation projects across Scotland. If you’d like more information on this or any of our future projects please contact hpatterson@nts.org.uk

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