Map of the Dava Way path from Forres to Grantown

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The Story behind Dunphail Breathing Place


The Dava Way when first opened bypassed Dunphail and went along the Half Davoch road. In the Autumn of 2007, having draining and cleared the cutting to the north, the path was re-routed through the former sidings and along the railway line. The sidings area of the fromer Dunphail station had lain abandoned since closure of the railway in 1965. In that time the area had been reclaimed by silver birch, gorse and nettles. The Dava Way path goes through the sidings and the popular Edinkillie Hall was nearby. There was obvious potential to give the sidings a new lease of life as an amenity for local residents and visitors alike.

A project unfolds

January 2008

leader+ logoWe decided to apply for funding from the Breathing Places programme of the Big Lottery fund. This was to be a amibtious poject that would turn the sidings themselves into a place of interest to visit, as well as an access point to the Dava Way and surrounding ocuntryside.

June 2008

Pic: Site of the causeway before work starts

A causeway would have to
cross this vegetated
boggy depression

The grant application was approved and the detailed discussions started. It was soon clear that providing access was to be the biggest challenge and that planning permission would be required. The preferred option necessitated the building of a causeway across the peat bog depression that separated the sidings from the Community Hall. Consultations with all the various bodies was time consuming and it wasn't until September that the planning application was submitted.

November 2008

Planning permission was granted but unfortunately the autumn had seen large increases in the prices of materials and it was soon clear that the cost of building the causeway was way beyond the funds available. The alternative of forming a sole access from the Half Davoch road was an unpopular option. Logie Estate (who own the land) and local contractor Grant Nicolson came to the rescue and a solution was found.

December 2008, January 2009

Pic: Site clearing begins

It was a very frosty morning
when site clearing began

Pic: Construction works completed

Contractor work was
finished by the end of January

Volunteers moved on site and over several days thinned out poor and damaged trees and cleared away scrub to make way for the contractor. By the end of January all the major construction work was completed. The effect on the site at this stage was rather stark.

February 2009

Snow stopped work! At this time we were invited to apply for a further grant to help to publicise the Breathing Place and to promote its use. An application to support a series of walks and talks, to improve signage, and to provide tools for future maintance was lodged.

March 2009

Pic: Tree planting

Volunteers planted 45 trees . .

Pic: Planting hedgerow plants

. . and over 600 hedgerow plants

This was the time of the big tree and hedgerow planting day. About 30 volunteers turned out on a bright Saturday morning. Many of the trees were planted in what had been an old roadway meaning holes had to be dug through layers of large rocks. The effort was worth it with every single tree and almost all the over plants surviving and growing.

April 2009

Pic: Testing the picnic tables

Picnic tables were assembled
and tested

Pic: Pond withs plants

The first plants were
put in the pond

With the opening in sight planting of the pond started and the picnic tables were put in place. The path network was completed and the branch thinnings used to provide chippings.
The follow up grant application was approved - more planning needed, and quickly.

May 2009

Pic: Opening of Breathing Place

Roy Dennis cuts the tape
at the opening

The opening of the Breathing Place by ornothologist Roy Dennis was attended by over 100 people. The sun shone and visitors were able to enjoy short tours followed by tea and bakes. The site was visited by the Big Lottery and the main grant was signed off in June.

June, July, August, September 2009

With the additional funding a series of 'walks and talks' was arranged with local experts exploring the railway history, plants, birds, mammals, fungi and insects of the Breathing Place and surrounding countryside. Additional plants were planted in the pond. We were able to purchase tools and materials to allow the Breathing Place to be maintained in the future.