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The team at the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust have secured a bid to take over ownership of the lighthouse on the most westerly point of the UK.
The trust, which already runs the cafe, shop and exhibition at the site, secured £224,900 from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the iconic lighthouse from Highland Council.
The money will enable the trust to buy most of the buildings and land from the council and perform emergency repairs to protect the buildings’ integrity.
Chairman of the trust, Ritchie Dinnes, was delighted. He said: ‘We realised a few years ago that the site required money spending on it but neither the trust, nor the council, had the resources to do that. We approached Scottish Land Fund, which has provided excellent guidance and advice over the last few years culminating in this award.
‘This will enable the trust to secure the future of the attraction and provide a platform to source further funding to implement upgrades, thus enabling us to continue to attract and enchant visitors at this wonderful location.’
Green MSP for the Highlands, John Finnie, called the trust ‘a fine steward’ of the lighthouse and praised the work of wildlife photographer and filmmaker, Hamza Yassin, whose photographs of the area ‘highlight what a magnificent spot it is’.
African born Hamza has called Ardnamurchan home since he fell in love with it nine years ago. Also a trustee, he said: ‘The lighthouse is on an amazing vantage point to view sea birds coming through, you can also see whales and dolphins as well, which makes it a great base for some wildlife photography. The lack of light pollution in the area also makes the area around the lighthouse perfect for photographing the stars at night.’
Guiding ships to safety through the treacherous waters of Scotland since 1849, the tower and one machine room will be retained by the Northern Lighthouse Board to continue its work.
It now attracts almost 20,000 visitors per year who are allowed to visit the top of the tower by NLB, which provides revenue for the trust along with the cafe and exhibition centre.
Lighthouse trustee, Elaine Stokes, is hoping they can make the experience even better. She said: ‘We are a group of keen volunteers, who also have our own day jobs. For this reason, another part of the funding will go towards the employment of an experienced project manager. This is with a view to securing further funding for significant upgrades to the site and then to manage the implementation of said upgrades.’
They want to make a new visitor centre, create bunkhouse accommodation for overnight guests and improve the existing exhibition and cafe, among other measures to keep it self funding and sustainable.
‘We have a huge mix of people who come to the lighthouse,’ Elaine Stokes continued, ‘from lighthouse ‘baggers’, engineering enthusiasts, overseas visitors, young, old and everything in between. Many visitors come back to Ardnamurchan year after year, and the lighthouse becomes a sort of annual pilgrimage. Lots of returning visitors look forward to being greeted by the lighthouse dogs, Peigi and Ted, who will run for sticks all day, much to the amusement of visiting children.’
CAPTION: Hamza Yassin’s photography of the Lighthouse was used to showcase the natural beauty of the area in the bid to secure funding by the trust. Photograph: Hamza Yassin