TENS of thousands of trees have been felled at an East Renfrewshire beauty spot after an outbreak of a deadly disease.

More than 13 hectares of forest at the Neilston Pad was affected by phytophthora ramorum – a fungus-like pathogen that can kill or severely damage larch trees.

An estimated 20,000 trees have now been axed in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.

Neilston resident John Dick, 70, was shocked to see so many trees cut down while visiting the popular walking route.

He told the Barrhead News: “The Neilston Pad has been a walking path for over 100 years and it is a lovely spot. The devastation that has been going on with the trees there has been terrible.

“There are all these thousands of trees being taken down, with the logs all stacked up at the sides of the path. The beauty spot has been ruined.

“I was talking to a friend on a walk up there and he was telling me about the trees having to come down due to this disease.

“He did mention they will be replanting the trees but I’m still a wee bit worried about that. They could easily change their mind at some point. I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation.”

The managing agents of Elderslie Estates, which owns the land at the Neilston Pad, confirmed they were given a statutory notice by Scottish Forestry that the larch trees had to be felled due to the spread of the disease.

Scottish Forestry is now encouraging woodland visitors to help prevent the spread of tree disease through brushing the mud and debris from their walking boots, bike tyres and walking poles.

A spokesman said: “Our forests are at risk from tree pests and diseases. These can dramatically affect the health of our trees, upsetting the delicate ecosystem balance and devastating large areas of woodland.

“Pests and diseases hitch a ride in mud and debris on shoes, paws and tyres, ending up in new forests. Here, they can spread rapidly in environments with no natural resilience.

“We’re doing everything we can to tackle these challenges but we need the public’s help too.

“Before a forest visit, remember to clean your shoes, bike, any toys or equipment and your dog’s body. Just take a moment to brush off any visible dirt and give everything a good wash, as this helps to slow disease spread, preserving our woodlands now and for future generations.

“Land owners and managers are also encouraged to download a standard poster and an editable version to advise visitors about biosecurity.”