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Young architects to highlight beauty of our landscape

THE NATURAL beauty of our landscape may be acclaimed around the globe, but too many view it from the inside of a car.

Now a group of architects has been recruited to help persuade visitors and locals alike to take time to get out of their vehicles to take in the panorama before them.

The profession has not always been associated with improving Scotland's scenery, but "the cream of young Scottish architects" are crucial to Scottish Scenic Routes.

The £1.5 million, three-year Scottish Government initiative aims to make the most of spectacular views on main tourist routes.

The aim is to encourage people to break their journey, enjoy a new perspective on a well-loved view, and boost the economy. The route round Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is the first to be launched.

The pilot project takes in the three viewpoints which were designed by the young architects in a nationwide design competition, attracting more than 100 entries. A fourth viewpoint is to follow later this year.

One lies off the A82 south of Crianlarich. A woven tunnel of steel rods at the Falls of Falloch, leads the visitor down a walkway "dappled with light".

On the final turn it widens to reveal a dramatic framed view of the waterfall from on high. The roar of the water, captured by the open mouth of "Woven Sound", inspired Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the Romantic poet William, to write the lines that are etched on the viewing platform. Meanwhile, a journey down the single track road off the A84 south of Lochearnhead leads to "Lookout" in Balquhidder glen. The mirrored cabin sits on a narrow strip of land between Loch Voil and Loch Doine, reflecting and framing the water, mountains and glens.

At the south end of Loch Lubnaig, further down the A84 towards Callander, is "Sloc Nan Sitheanach" or the Faerie Hollow. A hideaway planted with wild flowers provides a peaceful place to savour the views across the loch to Ben Ledi.

Further scenic routes pilot projects will be rolled out in the Cairngorms National Park and on Scottish Canals' sites along the A82 in the coming year. A national programme will follow, bringing benefits to many more scenic areas.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland's breath-taking scenery is hugely admired across the world, and it is only right that we create as many opportunities as we can for people to experience it first-hand. Innovative viewpoints in areas of outstanding scenery will enhance the appreciation of Scotland's landscapes and enrich journeys for residents and visitors. It will also support rural economy and employment."

Gordon Watson, director of operations at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, added: "We tend to drive along the road without realising that just beyond those trees or round that corner is an unforgettable view.

"This project is about celebrating those journeys and providing well-designed viewpoints that become must-visit destinations, as well as showcasing our young design talent to an international visitor audience."

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