A face lift and building extension worth more than £1million has “transformed” the visitor centre at an iconic Highland site.
Work to modernise the original 1990s National Trust building at Glencoe – including an extension to the cafe area, redesigns of all interiors and improved walkways for customers – began last October.
Emily Bryce, operations manager said the updating of the centre was the first in a £56million overhaul of National Trust for Scotland visitor centres throughout the country.
Entry will now be free, and the attraction expects to have more than a million people pass through the doors in the next five years.
Ms Bryce said: “As one of the flagship centres, telling a very important story of Scotland’s history to the million or so people who drive through Glencoe – it is an important milestone that this work is being completed today.
“Glencoe was bought for the National Trust in 1936 after an appeal to the nation by Percy Unna. Mr Unna was a mountaineer and wrote to many other mountaineering organisations to help raise the cash to buy the farmland and hillsides that were being sold. ”
The original appeal letter, from Mr Unna, is on display at the centre, and shows within a year the £9,000 to buy the farms at Glencoe and Dalness Forest was achieved.
“Therefore,” explains Ms Bryce, “it is completely appropriate that the first exhibition is on the Pioneers of the Peaks – Mountaineering in Scotland, and shows the many people and organisations that have a link to Glencoe.
“It was thanks to mountaineering men, like Percy Unna and woman in the Ladies Scottish Mountaineering Club that Glencoe is the hands of the Scottish people today.”
The exhibition features other organisations associated with the area including the Scottish Mountaineering Club, Scottish Avalanche Information Service and Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team.
Ms Bryce added: “For many years the visitor centre at Glencoe has been a stopping point for buses and individuals.
“Quite often the 200,000-or-so people every year would stop, use the loo and carry on, not waiting around to take a look at the history and culture right here on the doorstep.
“We want as many people as possible to engage with our history, the Gaelic language and our culture – by opening up the centre where people only pay a car parking fee of £4, we think that will happen.”