FUNDING for a £200,000 project to create pathways in and around Traquair has been approved.

And work on the links to Innerleithen and the Southern Upland Way are expected to start later this month.

Forestry Commission Scotland has agreed to back the plans which will see new routes developed between Innerleithen and both Traquair village and Traquair House, a new pathway from the town to the Mountain Bike car park, and also a new trail route connecting Traquair with the Southern Upland Way.

A range of themed interpretation boards, picnic benches and perch benches will also be built as part of the project.

It is estimated that around 32 hectares of woodland will be made accessible with the new paths.

Catherine Maxwell Stuart from Traquair House said: "We are absolutely delighted that the path network is taking shape at last.

"It has been a long held desire to make Traquair more accessible by foot and particularly for local people to take advantage of the woodlands around Traquair which have previously been difficult to access.

"The new views that are being opened up with the new footpaths are really breath-taking.

"We are looking forward to making the dream become a reality.”

A community consultation exercise was held in November, 2016, by the Traquair House Charitable Trust, to gauge opinion on creating new pathways.

More than 60 members of the public gave their enthusiastic support for the multi-use paths through Traquair woodlands.

Over the past 18 months a management plan was developed to produce an exciting combination of new access, interpretation and woodland management.

And the submitted plans were this week approved by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Preparatory work has already taken place over the last year in the woodlands through the approved Forest Design Plan with the felling of three woodlands and thinning of a further two woodlands to ensure work on the paths can be started straight away.

Each individual access route will be opened when completed over the next 18 months.