Carron Valley is highly valued for its flora and fauna. It boasts the oldest native woodland in Scotland, and the Carron Glen Wildlife Reserve, which is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, in recent years, the river and its surrounding banks have been neglected, and the area has become a focus for antisocial behaviour and fly tipping.
Local residents feared that the Carron Valley was becoming unsafe and inaccessible for recreation and active travel. The problem intensified in 2010, when the Old Dales Bridge, which linked the communities of Denny and Dunipace, was closed. The bridge had been an important crossing point over the River Carron for more than 120 years. However, storms had damaged the central pier, causing the central structure of the bridge to weaken.
In 2009, Falkirk’s Community Planning Partnership commissioned C&M Community Consultants LLP to undertake a community engagement project in 16 areas along the River Carron. Meetings were held to document the concerns and wishes of these communities, and dialogues were held with various stakeholders and interest groups.
The final report revealed a clear desire to make the paths along the river more accessible and in 2010 the Communities along the Carron Association (CATCA) was formally established to drive forward these changes.
CATCA sought to improve the path network along the River Carron and in 2011, it initiated a project to replace the Old Dales Bridge. Work commenced onsite in March 2012; the derelict structure was removed and the central pier was demolished. The new bridge is a single steel truss and replicates the design of the old structure.
The new bridge is 1 meter higher than the old bridge so as to meet flood risk requirements and the abutments were improved to strength the central structure. The new bridge also includes a barrier free ramp and a 300m section of the path network leading up to the bridge was also improved. This ensures that the bridge complies with the Disability Discrimination Act and enables access for pushchairs, wheelchair users and people with mobility scooters.
In September 2012, a community event was held to celebrate the official opening of the bridge. The event was attended by over 200 local residents who were each encouraged to sow wild flower seeds along the banks of the River Carron.
The River Carron Bridge Project recognises the value of volunteering to individuals, communities and the environment. In an era of local government spending cuts, cooperation between a variety of voluntary organisations and local residents was essential to delivery of this project. It has helped to foster a sense of pride in the project, and it has help to build stronger and more harmonious communities along the River Carron.
The project encourages the use of greenspace for recreation and active travel through the maintenance and development of the Carron Valley path network. As a direct result of the bridge replacement, residents of all abilities now have the opportunity to travel by foot, bicycle or mobility scooter between the communities of Denny and Dunipace.
The project connects the communities of Denny and Dunipace. It provides a safe route to school for pupils attending Denny High School and enables employees traveling from Dunipace to the Winchester Industrial Estate to do so by foot or by bicycle.
Falkirk Provost Pat Reid in response to the community event to celebrate the official opening of the new bridge
"Saturday's event must go down as one of the most successful and inclusive community events of recent history. It was great to see so many people take so much time and show so much enthusiasm. The whole ambience was one of pride, of heritage and history."
Ian Ross, Scottish Natural Heritage chairman
“The Carron Loop is a great project for the wider Falkirk district and will benefit both residents and visitors for many years to come.”
This project received a grant from the 2011 CSGN Development Fund and supports CSGN theme of recreation and active travel. Without support from the CSGN, the bridge replacement would have been delayed and grants from other funding organisations would have been forfeited.
The delivery of this project has created a momentum within the community to proceed with the development and delivery of 20 year Communities along the Carron Project. Funding has been successfully secured from a number of sources including SUSTRANS and Forth Valley and Lomond Leader and, in 2011, CATCA commission P4 Projects to assess the existing path network between Grangemouth to the Carron Reservoir. The study made a number of recommendations on how to interconnect the path network between the various villages along the River Carron and CATCA is now working to implement these recommendations.
In addition to the 2011 funding, in 2014 CATCA was awarded £20,000 through the 2014/15 CSGN Development Fund to upgrade a section of path which will complete the 6 mile walking/cycling Carron Loop connecting the Communities of Larbert, Stenhousemuir, New Carron and Camelon. It is part of a bigger project led by CATCA, in partnership with Falkirk Council, CSGNT and local community groups, to open up access along the River Carron and to join up disconnected communities.
By completing the route, local communities will benefit through the provision of more direct active travel options to get to major health facilities, public transport nodes, shopping/leisure funding allowed an all abilities bridge (Dales Bridge) to be installed in Denny, improving access along the riverside.
|2011||CSGN Development Fund||40,000|
|2014||CSGN Development Fund||20,000|