Pictured: Lochaber Disability Access Panel Members Arthur Cowie (L) with Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Operations Manager David Ferguson (centre) and Irene Douglas from the access panel. Picture © Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
Car parking and walkways have been improved and new viewpoints and wheelchair-accessible paths created at a popular Highland lighthouse, to improve the visitor experience.
The improvements at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse in Lochaber have been made possible thanks to £192,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
Other funding came from the Highland Coastal Communities Fund, Highland Council, Archaeology Scotland, Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust Ltd and the Scottish Land Fund, making a total project cost of over £289,000.
The lighthouse is an iconic, Grade-A listed heritage asset.
Sited on the most westerly point on the British mainland, it offers unrivalled views across the Inner Hebrides.
The landmark fulfils a vital role in the economy of West Ardnamurchan, providing employment and sustaining local tourism businesses.
The lighthouse complex is extremely popular with visitors, attracting more than 22,000 people between April and October 2019.
This signifies growth of more than 10% over the five years running up to 2019 and does not reflect the increase in visitor numbers to the external parts of the site, which are free to access all year round.
The improvement project will help to create better access and egress from the site as well as the provision of wheelchair-accessible paths, a cycle/wheelchair/pushchair repair station, an electric vehicle charge point and cycle racks.
Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the RTIF was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to this increase in visitor numbers.
It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said:
“It is great to see these improvement works completed in time for the new season as they will make a real difference to the visitor experience at Ardnamurchan.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry and as we emerge from this crisis, our priority is to reset tourism in a responsible way, to help spread the benefits of tourism across Scotland and to extend the season.
“RTIF can make a real difference to sites which have experienced a large volume of visitors and the impact that can have on communities.
“These facilities will help create a much-improved experience for visitors and help alleviate the pressure on infrastructure and ensure Ardnamurchan remains a must-visit destination for future generations of holidaymakers.
“Tourism is a force for good and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs and can improve wellbeing.”
Chair of Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the completion of the works at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, which I am sure will continue to be an extremely popular destination on the west coast for visitors.
“The Highland Coastal Communities Fund provided some of the funding for this wonderful, community-owned visitor attraction, which we hope will help spread tourists across the area.
“The £192,000 investment from the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) was key to the delivery of this forward-thinking project.”
With support from the Scottish Land Fund, Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust Ltd bought the site on behalf of the Ardnamurchan community in July 2020.
The lighthouse lies at the extremity of one of the most remote rural settlements in the UK (approximately two hours drive from the nearest small town and four hours from the nearest city), with a population of just 281 residents.
The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund project is a partnership between Highland Council and the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust Ltd, to improve access to the external free to access parts of the site in this remote peninsula.