AN AYRSHIRE mum has won a national award as a walking champion for maintaining and cleaning up a stunning long-distance trail.

Gillian Craig’s astonishing work for Ayrshire Coastal Path, which spans almost three years, was recognised by being awarded the prestigious accolade - Community Path Volunteer of the Year. The prize was given by Scotland’s walking charity, Paths for All, at its annual Volunteer Awards at the Scottish Parliament.

Gillian began volunteering after walking the route regularly realising the team was on the lookout for new recruits.

She quickly upped the profile of the path through social media, helped to increase the number of volunteers from 25 to 50, started her own anti-litter campaign and became a path warden for 20 miles of the 100-mile trail which runs from Glenapp to Skelmorlie.

Gillian said: “For me, as a keen walker, I can’t think of anything better than protecting the future of a local long-distance path. It’s a walking route that can attract visitors to the area and gives local people a place to walk.

“Ayrshire Coastal Path was created by the Rotary Club of Ayr and previously the volunteers were retired men. I think me joining – as a woman in her 30s – was seen as a positive change. It also encouraged other people, and in particular more women, to volunteer.

“Two years later, I was invited onto the management team which was great because, although I was young and new, it showed they really trusted and respected what I was doing.

“It’s very nice to win this award, and especially as I was nominated by other volunteers in the team.”

The mum-of-two is behind Gillian’s Walks, a blog which has become a popular online walking resource, attracting an average of 20,000 views a month.

She added: “Gillian’s Walks has become a bit of brand and has grown arms and legs in the past two years. I have 180 walking routes on the website which are mostly in Ayrshire but I have others from all over the country.

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