In 2021, Page\Park joined a multi-disciplinary design team led by Civic Engineers for the development of a redesigned 12km active travel route connecting Helensburgh and HMNB Clyde. This project is financially supported by Argyll and Bute Council and Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone program, funded by Transport Scotland.
The project’s primary goal is to create a safer and more seamless travel facility, with improved community connections. The walking, cycling, and wheeling route has been meticulously designed to ensure continuous use with minimal disruption to existing roads and transport services. Page\Park has spearheaded the placemaking aspect of the project, focusing on both short-term and long-term opportunities to enhance the environment and the overall sense of place. These improvements are intended to benefit both local residents and commuters.
Our placemaking strategy is guided by three key principles:
- Respecting the current use of the lochside route for exercise and travel by local residents, informed by on-site observations and data analysis of nearly sixty thousand journeys logged on Strava.
- Creating new connections within the community to ensure inclusivity for all users.
- Embracing the history and identity of Gare Loch, with its rich legacy of steamer and boat travel.
The route spans approximately 10km, and our placemaking efforts are centered around key markers along its length. These markers include points of departure (e.g., Helensburgh, Rhu, or HMNB Clyde), visual landmarks, targets, or achievements (e.g., hill summits or sprint sections between bus stops), and prominent connections into the route (e.g., Rhu Road Higher or the Haul Road). Our concept takes the form of active travel laybys, providing off-route zones for walkers, runners, and riders to pause, enjoy the view, wait for companions, or take a break.
The active travel laybys incorporate bells as their centerpiece. Historically, ships have used bells for timekeeping since the late 1400s, a tradition that continues today. The nine bells are strategically located approximately 2.5km apart, reflecting a 30-minute walk, 5km for a 30-minute run, and 10km for a 30-minute cycle—mirroring the intervals used to ring ship bells. The bells are intended to be touched and engaged with by users, bridging the land-based activity with the rich history of water-based activities on Gare Loch.
The project has been through two rounds of public consultation, including a ‘route relay’ cycle along the full route in September 2021. During the day we stopped at important locations to meet and chat with people about the project, including the children of Rhu Primary School, who shared their perspective on what they would and wouldn’t like to see included.
Argyll and Bute Council
Nick Wright Planning