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Mountain Garden for Tom and Rhona Weir Opened on Loch Lomondside

The formal opening of Tom and Rhona Weir's Mountain Garden, the latest addition to the iconic Tom Weir’s Rest and Statue site overlooking Balmaha Bay, took place on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

The stunning mountain garden, located beside the Tom Weir Statue, was formally opened by actor, US National Park ambassador and John Muir impersonator Lee Stetson, and The Scots Magazine editor Robert Wight. The event to officially open the garden, named in honour of the late Tom Weir, Scotland’s most loved mountain man, and his widow Rhona, was attended by several locals, walkers and lovers of the Balmaha area. Rhona Weir, 96, (pictured above with actor Lee Stetson as John Muir), was also present at the opening event.

The garden marks the completion of the £130,000 transformation of the former picnic site which has been leased to the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs by Stirling Council. Designed by landscape specialist and Scottish Campaign for National Parks Chairman Ross Anderson, and developed by the outdoor landscaping team from local business owner Sandy Fraser’s The Oak Tree Inn, the garden features a range of typical mountain plants, as well as a selection of stones and rocks collected near the Highland Boundary Fault which runs through Loch Lomond in close proximity to Balmaha.

Feature stones in the garden include white quartz from Ben Lomond, and state slabs especially engraved by one of Historic Environment Scotland’s apprentice stonemason Lara Townsend with quotes about the wonders of Loch Lomond that were written by Tom 50 years ago, appearing in articles in the Scots Magazine. The event saw the unveiling of the fifth and final storyboard at the statue site, with the other four having been launched earlier this year.

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “This event is an integral part of a visit by Lee Stetson as part of the centenary celebrations of the US National Parks Service, and also another opportunity to remind everybody of how Tom Weir became Scotland’s most loved mountain man. It is also a fitting way to mark the completion of work at the Tom Weir’s Rest site which has become firmly established in a relatively short period of time as one of Loch Lomond’s top visitor attractions with over 100,000 visitors so far.”

Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group, said: “This is an event that is the culmination of many years of hard work fundraising by lots of volunteers and ordinary Scots and folk from further afield who are passionate about Tom Weir’s contribution to popularising Scotland’s great outdoors for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.“

Header photograph by Paul Saunders Photography.

Further Information

1. For further information contact Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group on 07882 942945 (tomweirmemorial@yahoo.co.uk) or James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs on 07894 908807 (jamesbfraser@aol.com).

2. Tom Weir was a prolific writer and broadcaster on Scotland’s great outdoors for more than 50 years and until his death in 2006. He lived for many years with his wife, Rhona at Gartocharn at the southern end of Loch Lomond where she was Head Teacher at the local primary school.

3. Tom was best known for his popular TV series Weir’s Way which ran between 1976 and1987 and has been frequently re-run over the past 29 years. He also had a monthly feature in the Scots Magazine for almost 50 years.

4. Tom was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Lifetime Achievement Eagle Award from the British Outdoor Guild of Travel Writers. He was also the first recipient of the John Muir Award for Lifetime Achievement.

5. Tom was an active campaigner for the protection of the Scottish environment and in particular his beloved Loch Lomond where he became a founding member and Honorary Vice-President of the Friends of Loch Lomond when the independent conservation body was formed in 1978.

6. The Friends has a strong membership base and is supported by a large number of individuals and companies who are passionate about caring for and celebrating the special qualities of the National Park. See www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk

7. The Tom Weir Memorial Group was formed in February 2012 by a number of individuals from many walks of life who were keen to mark Tom’s great contribution to enriching the lives of several generations of Scots by introducing them to the wonders of Scotland’s great outdoors. See www.facebook.com/tomweirmemorial

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