A new bridge over the River Don at Bellabeg was officially opened last week by Mr Dennis Robertson MSP.
The new bridge has – at long last – restored the link between the communities of Bellabeg and Waterside with the village hall and the local hotel after the previous bridge was washed away almost 40 years ago.
It now means that people have an alternative to walking along the busy A944, which has no pavement or footpath, and it adds significantly to the network of paths in the area.
The bridge cost £120,000 and has been paid for by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) with direct funding from the Scottish Government and with the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) delivering the project using local contractors.
Mr Robertson, who represents Aberdeenshire West, said: “This new bridge is an excellent step forward for the communities of Bellabeg and Waterside. It offers yet another opportunity for walking and cycling in the area, helping to improve recreational opportunities and continuing the excellent work done by COAT and the Park Authority.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government was able to assist by providing funding for the bridge. From traffic-free walks, to simply being able to get a meal at the local hotel without taking the car, Bellabeg and Waterside will be served well by the bridge.”
David Green, CNPA convener said: “Improving opportunities for outdoor access in the Cairngorms National Park is high up on our list of priorities at the CNPA because we know that better access infrastructure and improved health go hand in hand.
“I see this new bridge being very popular for everyone in the community and especially the local health walking groups.”
Chairman of COAT, Peter Ord said: “This project adds significantly to the network of paths in and around Strathdon communities, which is great for the enjoyment, recreation and health of residents and visitors alike but projects like this are also good for the local economy with the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust using local contractors to deliver paths and other outdoor infrastructure in the area.”
It’s believed the previous wooden bridge was built around 1900 by the Candacraig Estate carpenter but it collapsed into the river during a massive flood in the 1970s.