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Article published 11/05/2023

A news release from RSPB Scotland has announced the completion of a new 400m boardwalk at RSPB Lochwinnoch, with support from VisitScotland’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of the Garnock Connections Landscape Partnership Scheme. 

RSPB Lochwinnoch has a long history of welcoming visitors to enjoy the wildlife at this wetland and woodland site, but for many years there has been an ambition to improve visitor access by creating a circular path to allow people to explore more of what the nature reserve has to offer. 

This week RSPB Scotland and partners will be marking a huge step forward in realising this ambition by celebrating the opening of a new boardwalk that provides level and safe access to a previously inaccessible part of the nature reserve.  

The boardwalk closes 400m of the 870m gap in a circular route around the Aird Meadow Loch. The new route provides a much longed for waterside walk, allowing people better access to view water birds and providing wonderful scenic views of the Aird Meadow Loch before ending at a viewpoint beside the Peel Tower. This scheduled monument was consolidated last year as part of the Garnock Connections project. The 16th century fortified tower was built by the Sempill family as a “safe place” in times of war but until now, most visitors to RSPB Lochwinnoch did not know it was there.

The new route will also help staff and volunteers manage the site for the benefit of visitors and wildlife, giving easy access to areas that were previously hard to reach and could be susceptible to anti-social behaviour occurring in areas that were out of sight.

A boardwalk with water and trees surrounding it.

RSPB Lochwinnoch boardwalk viewpoint

It's fantastic to see access for visitors improved at Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

Visitors are increasingly choosing activities that boost health and well-being and this accessible development should ensure more people can enjoy immersing themselves in the local wildlife and the beautiful surroundings, without impacting on the natural biodiversity.

The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is helping Scotland becoming a sustainable tourism destination in line with the national tourism and economic strategy.

Lynn Hamilton, Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund Manager at VisitScotland

The new boardwalk is a real game-changer for the nature reserve. It will allow our visitors to experience new views and see so much more of the incredible wildlife here, not to mention the Peel Tower, that hardly anyone even knew was there. At the same time, it means our staff and volunteers can easily access the site and make sure it's safely managed for everyone and for the wildlife that uses the loch.

We’re really looking forward to celebrating this with everyone who has helped us to make the project happen.

Tabby Lamont, RSPB Scotland Site Manager at Lochwinnoch

Still to come

Ambitions for the reserve do not stop here. Subject to securing further funding, the aim is to extend the boardwalk and complete the long-awaited circular route that would provide the local community and visitors with access to even more of the nature reserve.

Following the successful delivery of significant habitat improvements this year to benefit the area’s wildlife, RSPB also have further enhancements planned.


The boardwalk project has been funded through our Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Garnock Connections project and the project has been supported by Renfrewshire Council.

The restoration of the Peel Tower was funded by Historic Environment Scotland and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Garnock Connections project

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