Markinch beauty spot restoration plan starts to take shape

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Ambitious plans to enhance a Markinch beauty spot have taken a major step forward with the completion of the latest phase of groundworks.

Three months of tree felling and the removal of overgrown rhododendrons and other invasive species on Markinch Hill is the latest work to be completed as part of a £53,000 restoration project being overseen by the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership and a number of local community groups.

The improvements will allow visitors to enjoy the historic site like never before, with the felling, which has been carefully carried out to protect a number of specimen trees over 200 years old, now allowing a stunning landscape views from the hill top.

Information boards detailing wildlife and the site’s history will also be installed with the project due to be completed by June 2016.

The historic hill was gifted to the Markinch community by the Balfour family in the 1970s, but over the years the woodland which occupies part of it has become overgrown and unkempt.

Paul Cruise, manager Living Solutions, a Fife-based social enterprise who have conducted the latest work, told the Gazette the work has benefited not just the local beauty spot but the local economy.

“It’s been quite a challenging project because of the steep slopes and the range of growth we have been instructed to clear but that has allowed a number of our 16-25 year age group apprentices to complete their training and achieve qualifications that will allow them to gain employment,” explained Paul.

“We were delighted to have been asked to carry out the work especially as it’s a local project,” he added.

Lorna Ross, chairman of Markinch Environmental Action Group said the work had completely transformed the landscape and revealed even more of the steep terraces on the slopes.

“The project is now moving into the final stage - interpretation, where there will be a viewpoint built on the plinth at the top of the hill, and also one overlooking the ancient Stob Cross, both with images and information,” said Lorna

“In addition there will be boards placed in strategic places around the hill, with drawings of flora and fauna, all drawn by one of our members, who lives locally.”

But she hinted that there was still much to do between now and the anticipated completion date.

“Volunteers still have to restore the stone walling which runs along the edge of the woodland but it will be fantastic when finished and available for the public to use for generations to come,” she added.