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Five years on and a vital route for Scottish timber is still going strong

The Eskdalemuir Timber Haul road has now been officially open for five years.

timber lorry

A lorry on Eskdalemuir Timber Haulsmall

The Eskdalemuir Timber Haul road has now been officially open for five years. During this time, it has relieved the community of Eskdalemuir from the sight of 60,000 lorries passing through their village and has borne the weight of around 750,000t of timber.

However, it is 10 years since the initial idea of a strategic timber transport project in Eskdalemuir was first discussed from which the idea of a Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF) emerged.

Considerable improvement under EU funding had already been carried out on the B723 that runs through the village of Eskdalemuir. However, following a change in EU economic regeneration funding the funding stream stopped. The STTF was born out of some lateral thinking within the Dumfries and Galloway Council, following on from a similar and successful initiative in Waste Management.

Tim Liddon, Regional Manager, UPM Tilhill said: “UPM Tilhill took on the responsibility to pull a bid together in May 2004 to build a dedicated road that would remove the volume of timber passing through the village of Eskdalemuir. At the time, the forecast was for a timber lorry to pass through the village every 10 minutes, five days a week with actual vehicle movements steadily increasing all the time. This was causing issues and friction between a number of parties. These parties were therefore brought together to deliver a solution.”

The project focused on removing as much timber traffic as possible from the Eskdalemuir community and providing major public road improvements at Sibbaldbie and Lammonbie. The bid was approved in late 2007 and work began. The project was then delivered by a partnership consisting of:

  • UPM Tilhill – project managers;
  • Dumfries &Galloway Council;
  • Kronospan;
  • Forestry Commission Scotland.

The partners established a liaison process with the Eskdalemuir community, Samye Ling (the Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the village), other forest owners and managers and timber hauliers.

To fulfil the part of the project to improve some of the major public roads in the area, a multi-user path was built for everyone to enjoy, linking the South of Scotland Countryside Trail from Ae Village with Samye Ling and Eskdalemuir village.

Additionally, D&G Council carried out significant improvements to the public road towards Lockerbie (at The Hewke to Sibbaldbie and Lammonbie Junction), which involved careful integration with the existing main water supply from Black Esk reservoir to the west. The new road bypassing the old T junction by Lammonbie is now well established and safer for all to use.

The other aspect of the project was the building of the dedicated Timber Haulage route. The village of Eskdalemuir was therefore bypassed by a high-specification, unbound haul road.

The carriageway of this road was built using an adapted Swedish specification for the materials using a hard crushed and blended stone. The road was also built to a wider specification than a normal forest road with vertical and horizontal alignment to ensure there is always a modest gradient in order to efficiently shed water from the road. A dedicated phone line was also set up so that users can report surface deterioration quickly allowing prompt repair – this has been a key factor in the road’s success.

The design of the haul road included inter-visible numbered passing places – an idea that came from a timber haulier. Timber wagons can inform each other where they are on the bypass enabling free flow of timber traffic.

The Eskdalemuir bypass was officially opened on 20th July 2009 and has been managed by UPM Tilhill and maintained by Scott Young for the last five years. However, as part of the original agreement, the care and maintenance of the road has now passed to Forestry Commission Scotland which aims to keep the timber flowing in a sustainable manner – supporting the timber processing industry which contributes substantially to the Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish economies.

UPM Tilhill, established more than 60 years ago, is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK. UPM Tilhill is the UK’s largest forest management and timber harvesting company. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor. Further information is available at


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