Harry Potter films prompts one of three newly completed projects in Highlands

Glenfinnan Viaduct

THREE tourism infrastructure projects in the Highlands have been completed, the area’s local authority has confirmed

Work on the slipways at Cromarty and Nigg, additional car parking at Glenfinnan viaduct and Skye’s Old Man of Storr footpath improvement projects are all ready to enhance visitor experiences.

A 30% growth in traffic in the village of Nigg prompted work to provide improved slipways for the Cromarty-Nigg ferry to protect the service and make the slips big enough to cater for a larger ferry that can take up to 16 cars and larger vehicles such as motorhomes.

A £300,000 rural tourism infrastructure grant was awarded by the Scottish Government for the project to increase the number of motorhomes, while £210,654 was allocated for the slipways. The project was match funded by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Highland Council, Beatrice Windfarm Fund, Wakelin Trust, University of Aberdeen, Global Energy, Cromarty Community Development Trust and Nigg Community Council. Simpsons Builders was the main contractor on the project.

Chair of the Easter Ross area committee, councillor Fiona Robertson, said, “I am thrilled the slipway project has been completed. Investment of this kind in Easter Ross is fantastic to see and will help the area become more resilient when dealing with the thousands of visitors who visit the area every year.

Meanwhile, additional parking space for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes/busses was created at Glenfinnan by Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd. The Highland Council said the work came in response to an increase in visitors visiting the viaduct due to it featuring in the Harry Potter films.

Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson, commented on behalf of himself and the area’s other elected members, Ben Thompson and Denis Rixson. He said, “We are thrilled this work has now been completed. Glenfinnan has so much to offer for such a small constrained area through the National Trust visitor Centre, the iconic monument and viaduct coupled with the loch, the architecture and location of the church.

“It is a magnet for tourists who will now be able to enjoy it for longer, with less hassle, through this project.”

In addition to the car park, The Highland Council in partnership with Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO also secured additional funding of £53,704 from round two of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund with a successful Crowd Funder to match, organised by the community for the final phase of the Glenfinnan Viaduct project. This phase will see a new footbridge and path link the new car park to the existing path to the viaduct – preventing visitors from having to walk on the main trunk road.

McGregor Construction carried out the work on the footpath at Old Man of Storr hill in the Isle of Skye. The project looked to enhance visitor access while also protecting iconic landscapes and internationally important habitats.

The project was funded by both the the rural, tourism and infrastructure fund (RTIF) at £184,508 and the rural payment and inspections directorate (SGRPID) at £79,075. Both are Scottish Government funding schemes.

Local councillor John Gordon said on the works, “I am delighted that this work has now been completed. The work at Storr will make a significant difference to the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike, not only will the work protect and care for the environment so there is better capacity and will help facilitate visitors at a very busy and iconic site.”

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional leadership director, commented on all three projects. He said,“A huge amount of work has recently taken place in a number of locations across the Highlands, including creating additional parking at Glenfinnan, improving the footpaths at the Old Man of Storr and building new slipways at Cromarty. This is why the RTIF is so vital.”