Some of the north’s most famous tourist attractions, including the Old Man of Storr and Pluscarden Abbey, are to get extra money to protect them from rising visitor numbers.
A £2.9 million fund to improve parking, toilets and paths at some of the country’s most popular historical and natural sight-seeing spots was unveiled by the Scottish Government yesterday.
Long-standing concerns about the lack of parking at Pluscarden Abbey in Moray, has resulted in £80,500 earmarked for 34 new car and two coach parking spaces, toilets and a seating area at the ancient monastery.
And £184,506 is to go towards improving the footpath at the Old Man of Storr on Skye, at which there has been a dramatic increase in visitors in recent years, prompting fears that the crowds are damaging the spectacular natural feature.
The Government said the work would enhance access to the rock formation while protecting “iconic landscapes” and internationally important habitats.
Also on Skye, £300,000 is to be spent on expanding parking in Portree and providing facilities for motorhomes.
Kate Forbes, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch who said she was “thrilled” by the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund announcement, which was made by Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop.
“In some places, the existing infrastructure has been creaking under the pressure of vastly increased tourism numbers,” she said.
“The growth on Skye has been well-documented and the proposed improvements for Portree and at the Storr are most welcome.”
A further £53,704 will go towards a footbridge and new path at Glenfinnan, the picturesque scene of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s landing in 1745 and home of the viaduct popularised by the Harry Potter films.
Glen Nevis is also one of the 13 attractions to benefit from the fund, with £300,000 set aside to install public transport access, better parking, signs, paths and toilet facilities at the Lower Steall Falls Car Park.
The 30% growth in traffic on the Nigg-Cromarty Ferry has resulted in another £300,000 going towards campervan facilities, including toilets and waste disposal as well as improved slipways.
Visitor erosion of the internationally important peat landscape at Hermaness on Shetland has led to a £300,000 award to build an elevated boardwalk across the moor, together with toilets and better parking.
Other island attractions to receive cash include £273,632 for better visitor facilities at An Laimhrig on Eigg, £171,000 for the Gigha Camp and motorhome site and £250,000 to reduce visitor pressure at Ulva Ferry on Mull.
Ms Hyslop said the cash would help the tourism industry keep pace with the “upsurge” of interest in “our most iconic rural and natural attractions”.
Doune Castle is to get £239,560 to cope with visitors flocking to the Stirlingshire fortress where Outlander has been filmed.
The historic Fife village of Falkland is receiving £124,000 for parking and £124,000 is going to Loch Lomond.