ONE of Scotland’s most famous and historic island landmarks - which has also been a major movie star – is set to become a top tourist attraction.
Residents living in north-east Skye are being asked to support their community organisation’s aspiration to run a visitor site near the Old Man of Storr.
The Staffin Community Trust (SCT) has been in talks with Highland Council - which owns an 82-hectare site from the Storr’s roadside upwards - about improving the visitor experience at the hugely popular location, which attracts people from all over the world.
This could involve a new off-road main car park, toilets, interpretation and refreshment kiosk. SCT is now set to ask the community what it thinks in a major public consultation and will issue questionnaires to every household in Staffin next week.
SCT is in discussion with the council regarding the purchase or lease of the land (or part of) for the community benefit of Staffin. SCT said it was a fantastic opportunity for the community to have a direct involvement at the site, potentially creating local employment and marketing Staffin and local businesses far more strongly.
The SCT views the Storr as a vital entry point and economic driver to Staffin for shops, cafes, accommodation providers and other key businesses.
More than 100,000 people have already visited the Storr this year and approximately 70% of that total continue north on the A855 road to Staffin.
The SCT believes it is well placed and has the expertise to deliver, in partnership with the council and others, a ground-breaking project and create significant and regular income for the organisation to meet its sustainability targets with funds used for additional community projects in Staffin.
SCT chairman Donald MacDonald said: “There is an opportunity here to provide a fantastic, much needed, facility that will be able to support the increasing numbers of visitors that visit this iconic attraction.
“Time will be taken for consultation and for working with a design team so that the best possible facility is developed with linkages to other important sites throughout the community such as Lealt Gorge, The Kilt Rock and the Quiraing.
“The Storr is a gateway site for the community of Staffin and we welcome the opportunity for people to give their valuable input.”
Councillor Audrey Sinclair, who is the chairwoman of the local authority’s planning, development and Infrastructure committee, said: “This area of Skye is very popular with tourists throughout the year and for many visitors, as well as locals, a walk to the Old Man of Storr is a highlight of any trip.
“Its extensive use in the recently released film, Macbeth, will attract more visitors to the area. I’m therefore delighted that members of the planning, development and infrastructure committee have agreed capital investment totalling £530,000.
“This will allow for significant improvements to be made to Storr Woodlands and also make a substantial contribution to essential visitor management improvements at Storr.
“I certainly look forward to following with interest the on-going talks about the proposal to give greater community involvement in the management and maintenance of the site.
“I would encourage people living in the area to contact Staffin Community Trust to let them know their views.”