This week we began work at our final path site in Argyll, at the Harry Lauder memorial.
In 1911, Lauder had become the highest-paid performer in the world, and was the first Scottish artist to sell a million records. He raised vast amounts of money for the war effort during World War I, for which he was subsequently knighted in 1919. He then went into semi-retirement in the mid 1930s, but briefly emerged to entertain troops in World War II. He suffered personal tragedy during the war, when his only son, John, a Captain in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on 28 December 1916 at Pozieres. Harry wrote the song “The End of the Road” in the wake of John’s death and had a monument for his son erected in the private Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter.
Glenbranter is now owned by The Forestry Commission who manage the land. I was actually told that back around the 1920’s, Lauder sold the land (something like 15000 hectares) for £21,000! This project to improve the site has been organised and funded by Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, looking to make the path more obvious and accessible to reach the memorial, situated just off the main A815 road between Strachur and Dunoon.
We had from Wednesday to Friday to make a start on clearing the existing path of vegetation and ripping out the old wooden box steps and hand rails. We also had 30 tonnes of stone brought in from the local quarry and began to transport it across to the site with the power barrow. We were a smaller team this week so Rory and I began at the start of the path building some anchor bars to reduce the gradient and set in a cross drain to meet the clay culvert pipe running down the embankment.
We also dug out a drainage ditch above the kissing gate to encourage water flow away from the path and Ryan and Fraser began working on the anchor bars and large section of pitching at the higher section.
We’ve made great progress in three days, and are hoping the sun stays out for the following week. We’re all really enjoying the little sun trap and how pleasant working on a lowland site is!
We also helped Rosie at the start of the week on a volunteer day with West Dumbartonshire Councils New Horizons work group. We were looking at defining an area of the West Highland Way path at Millarochy Bay. It had become slightly unclear where the path route was going so we built two anchor bars, cleared the path line of large boulders and trip hazards, used revetment to build up the path edges and finished with a bit of resurfacing.
It’s been satisfying to be able to complete these kind of tasks in a day which produce really successful results that everyone can feel quite chuffed about.