New website and guide aims to get West Dunbartonshire residents out walking

Down by the riverside – a mother and her daughter go walking near Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton photographer Daren Borzynski and a team of volunteers launched a photographic route maps of walks across West Dunbartonshire – as they aim to help everyone get more active thanks to an active travel grant from Paths for All.

A new community website and guidebook is aiming to get people in West Dunbartonshire out exploring their local area.

Dumbarton photographer Daren Borzynski and a team of volunteers last week launched photographic route maps of walks across West Dunbartonshire – as they aim to help everyone get more active this summer thanks to an active travel grant from Paths for All.

The website and guide gives a clear view of the route a walk will take, along with any obstacles along the way that could provide a challenge for people with mobility issues.

And Daren explained that working with community groups gave him the idea to bring two of his passions together.

He said: “We’ve been organising walking for health groups through my work with West Dunbartonshire Community Voluntary Services (WDCVS) for over six years now and I wondered how I could use my photography to support new walkers to actually join the walking groups.

“We’ve been doing a bit with different organisations and support groups across West Dunbartonshire.

“We decided to make up a couple of books made out of a group of photographs so people could see the route before they started walking on it.

“If there were any steep slopes or gates they’d be able to see those before they set off.

“We made a few of these and showed them to people from different groups and had a lot of great feedback from it.

“Although the website has now come about, the main idea was to have printed books that organisations and residents can have access to, so they have them in their hands when they go out and do their walks.

“I know some people will have mobile phones that they can view them on, but these books are going off to print and will be available locally – especially for organisations that want to have their own volunteer-led walking groups.

“That was only made possible thanks to an Active Travel Grant from Paths for All and Transport Scotland.

“The grant made it possible for us to go ahead with the project and get these books printed up for people to use.”

Despite the lockdown seeing many more of us take to exploring our local area, Daren revealed that the pandemic delayed the launch of the new guides.

He continued: “The whole lockdown was strange as well because we wanted to do this project last year. But the restrictions made it a bit difficult for us to do.

“Although I played a part in it, it was organised to get the volunteers involved. There were also volunteers coming out, looking at new routes, taking photographs of routes and feeding that back.

“But it was difficult because we couldn’t get out in groups at the time.

“Because of the sort of walks we do, we’ve looked at short walks of a couple of miles that are accessible for people who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters and things.

“We aim to try and highlight those factors so it’s kept low level and easy for people to access.”

And through the work Daren even discovered a new route in his hometown of Dumbarton.

He added: “There are so many different great walks in West Dunbartonshire and I’m very fortunate in that I’ve had the opportunity to do most of them.

“Everything has something different; some are scenic, some are in parks that are ideal for exercise. Building up laps and getting out to build up your fitness.

“I think my favourite at the moment is just along the foreshore and around Dumbarton castle. My daughter loves it, especially when the tide is out and there’s sand.

“That was a walk that I didn’t actually know about until one of the volunteers mentioned it to me.

“I’ve lived in Dumbarton most of my life and I’d never done that walk.

“It was only through this project that I found out about it.”

To find out more information about walking routes and how to keep active visit Keeping Active

News Article with Daren Borzynski by Fraser Clarke of the Lennox Herald, first posted by West Dunbartonshire Council. Top picture of charity fund-raiser Petra McMillan walking in the Long Crags by Bill Heaney

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