River flumes provide safe crossing for walkers

  30 December 2014
Flumes installed at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA) river gauging station at Eas Daimh will give walkers a safe way to access Ben Lui from the nearby Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) car park. The project, which was conducted in collaboration with both FCS and Network Rail, and with input from British Transport Police, means that there is now an alternative to trespassing on the mainline railway.

A weir was originally installed at this location by the River Purification Board in the 1980s as a control for the gauging station at Eas Daimh. The weir raised the water levels under the Network Rail railway bridge, meaning it was not easy to wade under the railway bridge when the burn was in spate.

Unfortunately, although the route from the Glenlochy Car Park on the A85 Tydrum to Dalmally road was marked on walking guides there was no indication as to how to cross the railway line and people were climbing over the railway fence and crossing the tracks. This was both dangerous and illegal.

FCS contacted SEPA to see if anything could be done to improve access under the railway bridge where the weir was controlling water levels. SEPA was planning maintenance work and so decided to consider options which would also make access for walkers easier. FCS and Network Rail helped fund the project.

Margaret Miller, a SEPA Engineering Specialist, said:

“We came up with the idea of putting in flumes through the old weir and adding a walkway at the side. The fibreglass flumes, which have been designed and manufactured by us, provide a practical solution for everyone as they lower the upstream water level whilst improving flow estimates. They have been calibrated so that the flow rate can be calculated from an equation. This should make low-flow estimates at the station much more accurate, further improving our environmental data.

“People will have to ford the River Lochy, and may still have to wade at the walkway if river levels are high. They do also have to stoop when going under the low railway bridge but, with a little care, the Eas Daimh walkway adds interest to the route while keeping walkers out of danger from the railway.”

Alex Sharkey, Network Rail area director for the East of Scotland, said:

“Trespassing on the railway is both illegal and incredibly dangerous. Anyone struck by a train is likely to be killed and using our infrastructure as a short-cut is never acceptable. We are pleased to have been able to work with SEPA and the Forestry Commission to provide this alternative route, but will always seek to prosecute anyone caught trespassing on the railway at this location or elsewhere.”

Simon Brown, Forestry Commission Scotland’s beat forester in West Argyll, added:

“Ben Lui is a very popular mountain, which attracts many visitors every year. We are delighted that a solution to the long-running access issue has been put in place and we’d encourage walkers to use the new walkway.”

Constable Mike Tunney, of British Transport Police, based at Perth station said:

“British Transport Police welcomes these improvements to the infrastructure. It will undoubtedly help address any temptation on the part of walkers accessing Scotland's hills at this location to break the law by trespassing, which not only puts them and others in real danger, but also risks a criminal record and being fined up to £1000.”