Bla Bheinn car park upgrade begins

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Work began on Monday August 5 to increase car parking provision and build two composting toilets at the foot of Bla Bheinn on the B8083 between Broadford and Elgol on Skye.

The restructuring of the existing facilities will be carried out by Torrin-based contractor John MacKinnon, with the work expected take eight weeks to complete.

It will increase parking provision from approximately 20 spaces at present to 34 and will include disabled access bays. The composting toilets do not require a mains water supply and are therefore a low-cost way of providing toilet facilities. They are also environmentally friendly and need only minimal maintenance.

The upgrade will also include new signs and interpretation boards to help visitors better understand the landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage of the area – and to remind people of the importance of responsible visitor behaviour as summed up in the slogan Leave No Trace.

During construction, at least 50 per cent of the car park will remain open for visitors, although there may be short periods when full closure is necessary to carry out specific operations.

Overflow parking will be available along the roadside, as was the case prior to the construction of the existing car park. While the upgrade is in progress, the work area will be clearly demarcated with barriers and warning signs.

Rich Williams, land operations manager of the John Muir Trust, said: ‘As we all know, tourist numbers coming to Skye are on the rise, creating infrastructure problems in certain areas.

‘Bla Bheinn is a magnificent mountain with superb views over land and sea, and one of the more accessible Cuillin peaks, so it is understandably popular among visitors.

‘The trust has invested heavily in footpath repairs in recent years and is now trying to tackle parking congestion and thoughtless litter and human waste problems.’

The John Muir Trust manages 12,000 hectares on Skye, including the Strathaird, Torrin and Sconser estates, crofting settlements such as Elgol and part of the Cuillin Hills National Scenic Area. Over the past two years, the Trust has – with the support of its members, supporters  and external funding bodies – invested £263,000 repairing and upgrading its network of footpaths and has recently taken on two new members of staff from the local area.

The trust is also working closely with the Broadford campus of the UHI to help train students and local people as part of the Crofting and Countryside Skills course.

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