The new route, referred to as the ‘New Galloway Link Path’, means pedestrians will have off-road access from New Galloway to the Forest Park’s network of paths.
Walkers currently have to negotiate the A762, with limited visibility and fast traffic.
The new section of path, running from the Cairn Edward forest road at Strachan to the existing network of paths in the New Galloway Golf Club woods, allows users to avoid the road.
The need for the project was identified by volunteers from Local Initiative in New Galloway (LiNG).
The idea was then worked into a detailed proposal by the Galloway Glens Scheme, with the backing of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s New Galloway Link Path Environment Team.
The project which will include creation of new lengths of path, upgrade of existing paths, and a new footbridge over Knocknairling Burn. will cost more than £30,000.
It is being funded by the Galloway Glens Scheme’s National Lottery Heritage funding, matched to contributions from the council, Dumfries and Galloway Regionwide Community Fund and a contribution from LiNG.
Further applications for match funding are currently underway, but with the support of the Kenmure Estate landowner and the assistance of the Dumfries and Galloway Outdoor Access Trust, it is planned that the improvements will be delivered in March.
Gerry Cinderby, New Galloway resident and LiNG volunteer, who identified the opportunity for the project initially, said: “This path will be of great benefit to local walkers and to visitors.
“It will give safe access to areas of old woodland as well the network of paths in the Forest Park and could form part of an ambition to develop a long-distance path from Carsphairn to Kirkcudbright.
“Our grateful thanks to all the funders of this project and to the landowner who generously supported this idea”.
Jonathan Barrett, the Galloway Glens Land Management & Access Officer leading on project delivery, added: “The New Galloway Link path completes an important missing link in the path network allowing visitors and residents in New Galloway to safely access the forest paths to the south without having to walk along the busy A762.
“We are so grateful for the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from partners including the council’s Environment Team and the UNESCO Biosphere.”