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Two new paths have been created in Dalkeith to make cycling and walking safer, give better access to Midlothian’s open spaces and promote healthier lifestyles.

The two paths, which create a circular route along  both sides of the River Esk, were officially opened by the Transport Minister, Derek Mackay on Tuesday 23 June.

Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands said: “This new path is a fantastic example of a project that delivers benefits on many different levels. It helps people of all ages be more active through cycling and walking while enhancing access to high quality green spaces for local communities. It also helps turn a derelict site back into productive use with the new path safeguarded as part of any future development on the former High School site.

“The Central Scotland Green Network initiative is all about delivering multiple benefits like this for communities, the environment and the economy; as is our investment in sustainable and active transport through the Future Transport Fund.

“As part of a package of new measures to tackle Climate Change, we recently announced that we would review our policies on the school run – looking at how we can encourage more children to walk and cycle to school. High quality, safe and attractive routes like this have to be part of the answer.”

The project was developed by Midlothian Council with support from the Central Scotland Green Network Trust and funded by Transport Scotland.

The Transport Scotland funding of £135,000 and the council’s £5,000 supported the creation of a multi-use path through vacant and derelict land at the former Dalkeith High School. This path links through to Shade Park in Dalkeith.

On the other side of the river, a multi-use path was created though Riverside Park, which is a mix of public park and semi-natural grassland.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for parks and open spaces, Councillor Derek Rosie said: “The paths will be a huge boost for active travel encouraging more people to walk, cycle and therefore lead healthier lives. The paths are also designed to enable people with mobility problems or those with children’s buggies to better access our parks and open spaces. I’m delighted the paths are now officially open and are already being enjoyed by local people including St David's primary pupils here today.”

The new path through Riverside Park creates an off road link as part of National Cycle Route 1, thereby avoiding the roads through Woodburn. It also connects to the cycle path leading to the Dalkeith schools campus while both paths link with the wider network to Bonnyrigg and Newbattle.

Mike Batley, Development Officer at Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT), said: “CSGNT aims to support access improvements and transform vacant and derelict land across the central belt.  The opening of this new path network in Dalkeith will bring multiple benefits to local communities, providing them with more opportunities for active travel and access to green space and encouraging healthy lifestyles.”

Picture: Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands officially opens the new paths, alongside Mike Batley and Keith Geddes from CSGNT, Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for parks and open spaces, Councillor Derek Rosie, Ricky Moffat, head of road services at Midlothian Council and Gordon Thomas, Midlothian Council road services team, alongside pupils from St. David’s primary school.