A Mearns nature reserve has been given a £200,000 cash boost to it cope with its growing number of visitors.
St Cyrus National Nature Reserve is a popular spot with both beach lovers and wildlife spotters.
That popularity – resulting in a year-on-year increase in visitors – has put a strain on the existing car park.
Visitors have frequently found spaces full, while overspill parking off a single-track road has been deemed a safety hazard, both for passing traffic and pedestrians.
Now the reserve will grant funding from Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to upgrade the car park, as well as the visitor centre.
Councillor Leigh Wilson hailed the investment as great news and said: “So far in my time in the council I have championed a three T’s approach: tourism, tourism, tourism.
“The Mearns has so much potential to draw people in and I think we are starting to gain some traction now in unleashing it.
“The St Cyrus Nature Reserve is a hidden gem and you would be forgiven for believing you are in another part of the world once you set foot on the beach.
“I am delighted this funding has been secured so work can begin on this site and we can look forward to a more pleasant welcome to the reserve.”
The proposal is to improve the car park by re-surfacing and introducing new landscaping to reduce future maintenance demands, while at the same time improving the quality of the experience and sense of arrival for visitors.
Re-designing the current space will enable coaches and camper vans to use the site and disabled and cycle parking will also be catered for.
Charging points for electric vehicles may also be introduced.
Calli Hopkins, of Our Mearns Tourism Association, said: “St Cyrus Nature Reserve is one of the hidden treasures within the Angus and Aberdeenshire border.
“This funding will ensure this area of natural beauty is more accessible to tourists and visitors.”