A series of improvements will be introduced at Glencoe and Glen Etive later this year to help the popular tourist spots cope with an increasing number of visitors.
New parking, paths, signage, bins and a park and ride are planned for the glens, which have become even more popular after famously featuring in Harry Potter and James Bond films.
The infrastructure project, run by the Highland Council, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council, was awarded £375,000, subject to conditions, from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) last month.
It will be boosted by contributions from project partners, including £100,000 from the NTS.
Improvements have been agreed following talks with locals.
They include an upgrade to Glencoe’s busiest parking areas beside the A82 at the Three Sisters viewpoint and access to Coire Gabhail, or Hidden Valley, walks.
An all-ability path will replace the trail to a viewpoint near the Coire Gabhail parking area, while a park-and-ride shuttle bus service, and the “Glencoe Greenway”, a traffic-free route linking the glens with the Caledonia Way, are being explored.
In addition, purpose-built visitor waste hubs will be constructed at four locations, either upgrading existing amenities or providing new facilities. These are large areas for rubbish bins screened from view, with litter picking kits available.
While visitors will be encouraged to take their litter home, new signs in car parks will include maps showing where the nearest waste hubs, public toilets and local motorhome waste disposal sites can be found.
Emily Bryce, NTS operations manager for Glencoe, said the project will invest in “positive, sensitive infrastructure improvements” to make visits more sustainable.
Over the last few years we have worked together on the challenges we share as a result of a growing number of visitors. We are now keen to take a step forward with solutions.
“While a significant proportion of the funding will be directed towards improved parking, the reality is that it would be near impossible to meet peak parking demand at the height of the season without tarnishing the landscape everyone comes to enjoy. So, while the interventions we seek here will make safe, sustainable improvements to parking provision, the over-arching, long-term strategy is to balance vehicle access with attractive alternatives to access by car.”
Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council chairwoman, Viki Sutherland, added: “After lockdown ended in 2020, we experienced one of our busiest ever summers and this brought into sharp relief some long-standing issues.
“Together we have mapped hot spots for over-parking, littering and anti-social camping between Glencoe village and the Glencoe Mountain Resort, and developed an action plan to help accommodate everyone who wishes to visit our stunning area.”
Councillor Gordon Adam, chairman of Highland Council’s tourism committee, said: “The Highland Council is delighted to see this critical project funded in Round 3 of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
“As we see this project develop, there will be multiple services across the council working with NTS and other partners to ensure this project is delivered to a high standard.”
RTIF was launched by the Scottish Government in 2017 and is administered by VisitScotland.