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VisitScotland has named Drax’s Hollow Mountain visitor centre at the Cruachan pumped storage hydro power station one of its top visitor attractions, citing the outstanding experience and customer service.
VisitScotland gave the centre, which is located at the power station on the banks of Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute, the highest scores for hospitality and friendliness – elevating the centre to the top two per cent of their quality assurance scheme for the first time.
Sarah Cameron, Cruachan Visitor Centre manager, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be recognised among the best of the best in Scotland. Our dedicated team always go the extra mile to make sure the experience people have here is as engaging and educational as possible.
‘We have around 50,000 visitors a year and they’re often awestruck by how this power station has been built inside a mountain. The stunning scenery and wildlife – including the pine martens, which people love to watch – makes it a very special place to visit.’
As well as the pine martens, Cruachan is also home to swallows, ospreys and golden eagles, and often attracts walkers keen to take in the stunning views.
Cruachan power station was built in the 1960s deep inside the hollowed-out Ben Cruachan mountain. More than 1,000 workers, known as the Tunnel Tigers, drilled and blasted through the rock to create the cavernous power station.
Visitors can take guided tours inside the subterranean world of the power station where they can see the machine hall and learn about its history and the feat of engineering required to build it.
The visitor centre’s interactive exhibitions and displays help bring history to life and explain how electricity is generated. There is also a café, gift shop and picnic area.
As Scotland’s national tourism organisation, VisitScotland’s quality assurance scheme helps businesses develop their standards to the highest possible level. It uses benchmarking and secret shopper visits to assess sites.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland regional director, said: ‘Our scheme is about much more than just a star rating – it is about the entire visitor experience and investing in the business to make it as economically sustainable, and profitable, as it can be.’
Drax has introduced free guided tours at the Hollow Mountain for schools and higher education institutions during term time as part of its commitment to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers.
The company acquired Cruachan power station at the end of 2018, as part of its acquisition of a portfolio of flexible, renewable and low-carbon generating assets. Drax renovated the visitor centre and reopened it in February.
The visitor centre is open from 9.15am to 3.45pm in winter and 9.15am to 4.45pm in summer, Monday to Friday. The Hollow Mountain café uses produce grown at the centre’s own vegetable garden in its soups, sandwiches and salads.
To find out more about visiting Cruachan, visit www.visitcruachan.co.uk