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A project which aims to empower tourists to explore Glencoe and Glen Etive responsibly is set to receive vital funding to help balance the needs of visitors, local people and the landscape.
The Sustainable Visitor Infrastructure project, run in partnership by the Highland Council, the National Trust for Scotland and Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council, has been awarded £375,000, subject to conditions, in Round Three of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
The project will be boosted by contributions from project partners, including £100,000 from the National Trust for Scotland.
Launched by the Scottish Government in 2017 and administered by VisitScotland, the RTIF has so far invested £9million in infrastructure at scenic areas and popular rural tourist spots.
The project in Glencoe and Glen Etive is one of 13 initiatives across Scotland to receive support in this third round of funding. It aims to make the community and landscape more resilient to rising visitor numbers with more fit-for-purpose parking, paths for walkers and visitors, signage and waste disposal facilities.
The largest element of the project will be an upgrade of Glencoe’s busiest parking areas beside the A82 at the iconic Three Sisters viewpoint.
The planned improvements will maximise vehicle capacity within the existing car park footprint, marking out a safe and efficient layout. An all-ability path will replace an existing informal trail to a viewpoint near the Coire Gabhail parking area, helping to safely separate pedestrians from vehicles and reducing the impact of thousands of feet on the sensitive hillside habitat.
Other parking hotspots likely to receive attention include Altnafeadh, where the West Highland Way climbs up the Devil’s Staircase and Glen Etive, including the popular view made famous in the James Bond movie, Skyfall.
A key element of the project is the construction of purpose-built visitor waste hubs at four locations in the glens while improvements to footpaths include an upgrade of the trail from Glencoe village towards the Clachaig Inn.
Emily Bryce, the National Trust for Scotland’s operations manager for Glencoe said: ‘Over the last few years we have worked together on the challenges we share as a result of a growing number of visitors. We are now keen to take a step forward with solutions.’
Viki Sutherland, chairperson of the Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council added: ‘We have developed an action plan to help accommodate everyone who wishes to visit our stunning area.’
The project has been informed by local collaboration, extensive traffic monitoring and the results of an online survey with the introduction of new facilities and infrastructure improvements expected in autumn and winter 2021.
Find out more about Glencoe National Nature Reserve at www.nts.org.uk