Work to restore an historic lighthouse on the banks of Loch Ness has been completed – just in time for its 200th birthday.
Bona Lighthouse was designed and built by Caledonian Canal engineer Thomas Telford and is the smallest inland lighthouse in Britain.
It was built to guide boats from Loch Ness into the Caledonian Canal – but now it will be used as one of the most unusual holiday cottages anywhere in Scotland.
A project costing £497,000 to turn the category B-listed building into two holiday apartments was undertaken by owners Scottish Canals, with support from the Vivat Trust and Historic Scotland.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP officially reopened the two luxury holiday apartments yesterday
He said: “The Scottish Government welcomes the completion of the Bona Lighthouse refurbishment which brings this historic building back into public use and will generate additional income for Scottish Canals.
“Scottish Canals’ investment, together with support from Historic Scotland, has ensured the long term future of this important heritage asset.”
Once an example of cutting edge technology, Bona guided ships into the Caledonian Canal for more than a century before technological advances rendered it obsolete and it fell into disuse.
Andrew Thin, chairman of Scottish Canals, said: “Bona Lighthouse is a vital part of the rich history of the Caledonian Canal and we’re delighted to mark its official reopening today, just in time for the 200th anniversary of its construction.
“Creating holiday homes in this iconic location will provide a boost to the tourism of the Highlands, offering visitors breathtaking views of Loch Ness and providing a sustainable future for a building steeped in history.”
The stunning oriel bay window, which once held the light that guided ships onto the canal, has been retained and remains the focal point of the cottage, and is now the ideal spot to while away the hours gazing out at the inky blue waters of Loch Ness in search of Nessie.
Shelagh Thorne, project manager at Historic Scotland, said: “We were very pleased to be able to assist Scottish Canals with the repair and redevelopment of Bona Lighthouse.
“This is an unusual building, designed by Thomas Telford, which was originally the canal lighthouse keeper’s accommodation and the property had lain redundant for some time and was classed as ‘at risk.'”