Pictured: Old man of Storr by Tom Stromer Creative Commons.
Works are set to begin which will further enhance the visitor experience at one of Scotland’s most iconic sites, the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
Thousands of visitor’s flock to the island every year and they will be able to do so with more comfort with the construction of new toilet facilities (£300,000).
This latest development complements two projects already underway, the first is the pathworks project to upgrade the existing footpath for visitors to reduce the erosion and vegetation loss.
The pathworks project is managed by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS).
It’s £184,508 budget is funded by both the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and Scottish Government Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID).
The second is the construction of a new car park to enhance road safety by preventing cars parking on the main road.
This is funded by LEADER, which is part of the new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).
The fund aimed at promoting economic and community development within rural areas.
LEADER is a grassroots method of delivering support for rural development through implementing Local Development Strategies.
The toilets, motorhome facilities are being funded by The Highland Council and the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which aims to support projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities due to the significant increases in visitor numbers.
Work on the pathworks project resumed on 22 June following the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by the Scottish Government.
The toilet and motorhome facilities are due to begin on 3 August and the principal contractor for the work is McGregor Construction (Highlands) Ltd.
Highland Council’s property team will be managing the project.
Isle of Skye Area Committee chairman, Cllr John Gordon, said:
“We are delighted to see work continuing at the Storr which will make a significant difference to the area for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.
“The infrastructure will transform the area from the additional parking as well as toilets along with motor home facilities which are so badly needed.
“The path works will protect and care for the environment as well as give a more enjoyable walk up to the Storr.”
“Again we are seeing good partnership working that is delivering at various sites across Skye which will continue beyond these works as we look at future projects.”
Iain MacLeod, Contracts Manager at McGregor Construction (Highland) Ltd, said:
“As Principal Contractor, McGregor Construction is pleased to be involved in the construction of this new facility by The Highland Council, which will enhance the facilities at the Old Man of Storr site.
“These facilities will improve the experience of locals and visitors alike, who visit the Storr and surrounding area, as well as providing much needed income for local businesses and employment opportunities.”
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said:
“The commencement of improvement works at Storr is great news.
“Over recent years, Skye has seen a huge rise in visitor numbers and the Old Man of Storr – arguably one of the most iconic locations in the Highlands – has itself has seen a 600% increase in a decade.
“This growth has, at certain times of the year, resulted in pressure on infrastructure and negative impacts on some local communities.
“The development of new public toilets, motorhome facilities and interpretation, visitor information and improved access, paid for by RTIF, will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the visitor experience here.
“It will complement the new car park, recently completed with LEADER and Highland Council Funding.
“Administered by VisitScotland, the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund supports sustainable, well planned, inspiring, and collaborative infrastructure projects that focus on improving the visitor experience and enable more visitors to enjoy Scotland’s rural communities.”
In addition to the work at the Old Man of Storr, the Highland Council with MGL Contractors have also restarted work at Bayfield Car Park, Portree funded (£300,000) by Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
The Bayfield car park site currently houses a condemned squash facility and an overgrown tennis court.
Neither facility has been in use since 2016 and the land has been leased on a long-term basis by the Portree and Braes Community Trust which, together with the existing Highland Council car park land, will be redeveloped to create an extended hardstanding area in west Bayfield carpark, providing an additional 80 car parking spaces and additional 8 motorhome parking bays for day parking with facilities to empty waste and fill water.