Sir Jackie Stewart backs attraction bid to celebrate Highland road

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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SCOTS racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart has become a major driving force in an ambitious project celebrating a historic Highland road’s rich motoring history.

Plans to create a visitor attraction overlooking the old Military Road at the Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll have received the backing of the former world motorsport champion.

The Rest and Be Thankful Heritage Project will comprise of retail, cafe and arts spaces within a contemporary building aimed to highlight the road’s famous history.

Sir Jackie once raced the once-renowned hill climb events which were staged by the Royal Scottish Automobile Club at the Glen Croe site decades ago

The military road below the current A83, with its famous 400-feet gradient and hairpin bends, attracted leading international drivers including another world champion, the late Jim Clark, until its condition meant only select events could be staged after 1970.

Sir Jackie Stewart, who raced the 1400-yard course in a Ford in 1961, believes Scotland is missing a landmark to commemorate its proud place in global motorsport.

He said: “The top of the Rest and Be Thankful is a beautiful setting with breath-taking scenery.

“It would be a tourist attraction to have such a facility as is being proposed and it would provide an opportunity to bolster Scotland’s great motor racing heritage and successes around the world which have been going on for a very long time.

“In Scotland, we don’t do enough of this. It would also be a nice place for people to stop and have a refreshment while driving around the highlands of Scotland. I am sure it would be excellent for tourism as well as for the Scots.”

The project to create the visitor attraction is the brainchild of Douglas Anderson, the man responsible for the return of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally to Scotland, back in 2011.

Project directors hope the building, set within the picturesque Argyll hillside, will breathe new life into the popular stopping place and bring tourism spend and jobs to local communities.

Mr Anderson said: “The Rest and Be Thankful has great significance in motorsport terms because of the famous hill climb races.

“It was seen as the ultimate test for drivers in many ways because of the steepness and conditions and many greats like Jackie Stewart raced there.

“The idea is to mark that connection within a permanent exhibition space but the project itself is more. The building will be a multi-use facility which could be used by the local community for film, business and cultural events and there will also be retail and a restaurant area.

“There will be full-time jobs in the construction phase and full and part-time local jobs when complete.”

The proposed building, nestling within the contours of the mountainside, has been designed by KennedyTwaddle Architectural Design to utilise the stunning vista at the summit of the glen -already a favourite stopping place.

Meetings with officials from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, VisitScotland and Transport Scotland have been positive, with tourism chiefs aware the attraction will bring something unique to the area.

The glass-fronted building will accommodate adequate parking and may also provide respite for diverted drivers if the A83 major road, running above it, succumbs to further landslips.

Designers Chris Twaddle and Gary Kennedy believe the attraction, which is now canvassing support for feasibility funding, is respectful of the natural beauty of the site.

Mr Kennedy said: “We wanted it to be sympathetic to its context but we also wanted to frame the view and accentuate the natural amphitheatre of the valley. We feel it is subtly quiet but also visually exciting.”