A RECENTLY restored giant three-dimensional map of Scotland in Peeblesshire has been given a seal of approval from the Lord in charge of Scottish tourism.

VisitScotland Chairman John Thurso took in several destinations on his tour of the region last week.

As well as visiting the Great Polish Map of Scotland, which lies in the grounds of Barony Castle Hotel, he also toured Glentress to be briefed on plans for a major expansion.

Lord Thurso told us: “I was delighted to take the opportunity to visit the restored Great Polish Map of Scotland as part of my visit to the Scottish Borders and during the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“It is a fantastic achievement for this group of volunteers to have reached this stage and is testament to their hard work and dedication.

“From history and heritage to outdoor pursuits, there really is something for everyone in the Scottish Borders."

The Great Polish Map of Scotland was originally commissioned by Polish war veteran Jan Tomasik and designed and built by Polish students in the 1970s with the help of local volunteers.

It was painstakingly restored after lying abandoned for more than three decades by volunteers from Mapa Scotland.

The restoration took close to seven years to complete.

Lord Thurso visited the attraction as part of a tour of the Tweed Valley and the Peeblesshire.

Keith Burns, secretary of Mapa Scotland explained: “We were delighted to meet Lord Thurso on his recent visit and to showcase the newly restored map.

“Our group of volunteers have worked hard over the last few years to restore the structure to its former glory and we are now looking for local groups and organisations to become more involved in its upkeep.

“To receive the seal of approval from Lord Thurso is a welcome boost for all of our hard work.”

Lord Thurso also stopped off at Glentress Forest to learn more about the planned £11.3 million investment between Forest Enterprise Scotland and Forest Holidays to create eco-cabins, new biking trails and further walking routes.

The private and public sector investment has the potential of generating an extra £1 million into the local economy each year and employing up to 60 people.

Lord Thurso added: "The planned development at Glentress is an exciting addition to the tourism offering in the region.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure the current provision meets future demand.

“By working closely with our local communities and businesses, we can showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories of every region in Scotland to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy.”

Tourism is at the centre of economic success in the region, supporting 4,000 jobs, sustaining communities, generating £76 million in revenue and providing a shop window for business activity.

Fiona Murray, Forest Enterprise Scotland spokesperson said: “It is a very exciting time for forest tourism in the Scottish Borders with the recent tourism summit highlighting the sector’s importance.”