THEY are some of the most popular attractions in Scotland but have suffered wear and tear from the increasing numbers of visitors enjoying the sites in recent years.

But now a raft of improvements to infrastructure across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is to begin this month, ahead of what is expected to be another busy visitor season.

A complete upgrade of the Conic Hill path, a replacement bridge at Bracklinn Falls and a plan to improve the popular Tarbet Pier picnic site all feature in this initial phase of the National Park Authority’s programme of investment in visitor facilities.

The National Park saw unprecedented numbers of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic and numbers remained high in 2022 as people continued to enjoy the places they had discovered during lockdown. Foreign tourists also returned.

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The first stage of a £900,000 package of works to repair and improve the path on Conic Hill, Balmaha, begins this week.

At Bracklinn Falls in Callander, installation of a replacement bridge is in progress.

On West Loch Lomond, at the busy Tarbet Pier picnic site, a planning application is underway for significant improvements in coming years, including the establishment of a sustainable travel hub.

Stuart Mearns, director of place at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said: “The national park is one of Scotland’s most popular visitor destinations and alongside ongoing work to support visitors, land managers and communities during the peak season, we’re developing longer term plans to improve visitor services and infrastructure.

“These plans include upgraded facilities, paths and access routes, as well as projects which will over time ease visitor pressures and enable car-free travel.

“This month, projects in some of our busiest locations, at Conic Hill, Tarbet and Bracklinn Falls, have all taken significant steps forward, helping prepare us for what we expect to be another very busy visitor season ahead.

“For each of these projects, and indeed any development work within the national park, gains for climate and nature are vital.

“Providing a quality path on Conic Hill will help protect the area adjacent to the path and the important habitats and species to be found there.

“At Tarbet, while we make structural improvements to alleviate visitor pressures, we will also be improving biodiversity at the site and helping visitors embrace low-emission travel.

“Beyond these three projects, we continue to review priorities for future investment throughout the park and for ways we can encourage, and collaborate with partners to upgrade their visitor sites.”

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The package of works to repair and improve the path on Conic Hill, Balmaha, will be delivered over the next three years. Conic Hill is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and the path is badly degraded.

The volume of visitors now being seen has led to the need for the path to be widened and strengthened to ensure the hill can continue to be enjoyed in the years to come. The first phase of these works begins this week, with the path now closed until 31st March.

A planning application has this month been submitted for a £1.5m package of works in Tarbet, part of a masterplan developed with local people and businesses.

The picnic site was originally built for day visitors, but as visitor numbers rise, combined with the growing popularity of campervans and motorhomes, it needs upgraded.

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Improvements to the pier, space for community events, helicopter access for Mountain Rescue, and expanded visitor facilities such as toilets and café are also planned in the years to come.

Work is also underway to install a replacement Bracklinn Bridge at the popular Bracklinn Falls site in Callander.

The replacement bridge will provide a safe place to view the spectacular falls and will be in place ahead of the 2023 visitor season, together with benches, safety barriers and information panels sharing the history and culture of the area.

More than 70,000 people visit Bracklinn Falls every year.