New Skye tourism attraction to mark mountaineering history

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A new tourist attraction on the Isle of Skye marking mountaineering history is set to be created after a local community heritage group successfully reached its £117,000 target.

A bronze sculpture will now be commissioned and erected at Sligachan, against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains, paying tribute to two renowned mountaineering figures – Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie.

Credited with creating many of the routes across the Cuillin range, the pair are held locally as pioneers.

John Mackenzie was from the crofting village of Sconser and began climbing the Cuillin range at the age of 10 and went on to become the first native Scot to become a professional mountain guide.

The sculpture is to be erected at Sligachan on Skye in 2020 with Collie and MacKenzie looking onto the mountains they helped popularise. Photograph: COLLIE AND MACKENZIE HERITAGE GROUP

Mackenzie met Professor Collie, an internationally renowned scientist and mountain expert, on Skye – and the pair formed a climbing partnership and friendship that spanned more than half a century.

The heritage group has already successfully raised £200,000 to complete the first stage of the project, which included the formation of a 21-space car park, information panels, stone seating and the removal of an unsightly overhead power system.

Now that the second fundraising target has been met, the group is planning a Skye celebration of the Cuillins later this year to mark the unveiling of the new sculpture.

Morag Nicolson, who chairs the Collie and Mackenzie Heritage Group, said: ‘We are so pleased to be able to share this news with everyone that has supported and encouraged us over the past 16 years.

‘Our funding target has been reached, and we cannot thank every one enough for their donations towards this project.

‘We are now making plans for the unveiling of this iconic Bronze sculpture at Sligachan in September.’

Sculptor Stephen Tinney with a preliminary model (maquette) of what the sculpture will look like. Photograph: COLLIE AND MACKENZIE HERITAGE GROUP

MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Kate Forbes said: ‘This is an incredible feat of fundraising. It is amazing to see that the Collie and Mackenzie Heritage Group has finally fundraised its target to build a monument.

‘The project team has never given up, even when the fundraising target seemed far beyond its reach.

‘Their persistence has paid off, finally, and this monument will be erected in honour of Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie.’

Skye councillor John Finlayson added: ‘Members of the steering group should be congratulated on their dogged determination to get to this stage and I really appreciate the opportunity I had to be involved in the project at an early stage when I was a head teacher and also to be able to support the group in more recent times.

‘I am sure, just like me, all those who have so kindly supported the group over the years cannot wait to see the impressive sculpture in place.’

The group wishes to thanks everyone who contributed, and specifically MOWI, the Struan Community Trust, Suez Communities Trust, EB (Environmental Body) Scotland and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. More than 80 per cent of the money came from private donations.