How a new trailhead car park will help protect some of Scotland’s best-loved mountains
The 60-space facility is at the trailhead to Beinn a’ Ghlo and its three Munro summits, near Blair Atholl in Perthshire – on the southern edge of the Cairngorms National Park.
Before the car park was built at Loch Moraig, visitors would generally use an informal area off a narrow access road. This often resulted in verges becoming churned up, damage to natural habitats and problems with littering.
The £172,000 project was spearheaded and part-funded by the environmental charity Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS), in partnership with landowner Lude Estate and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, which also provided financing.
A share of income from the parking fees will be directly re-invested into the Volunteer Path Maintenance Programme run by OATS.
Perthshire North MSP John Swinney, former deputy first minister for Scotland, was at the site to cut the ribbon.
He said: “Not only will this provide a reliable and secure parking area for visitors, but its income will also be used to maintain the very paths they tread, enabling visitors to give back to our precious Highland environments.
“It's an innovative and sustainable approach, enhancing the visitor experience whilst ensuring the conservation of these cherished landscapes for generations to come.”
More people are taking to the hills than ever before, but there is a lack of basic access infrastructure at many popular remote destinations throughout Scotland, according to OATS chief executive Dougie Baird.
“The effects can be far-reaching, with disruption to landowners, communities and businesses and damage to the very special locations that people love,” he said.
“Charging a modest sum for car-parking at trailheads, including Beinn a’ Ghlo, which is then ploughed directly back into path maintenance projects, actively protects important and fragile assets and ensures visitors enjoy a positive experience.
“Every vehicle and their passengers make a direct contribution both to the facilities that enable the activities they love, and to the long-term conservation of Scotland’s mountains.
“The legacy will be huge.”
Duncan Gordon, of Lude Estate, said the opening of the car park was the culmination of seven years of work.
He said: “Given the exponential level of popularity of the area for walkers and bikers, the new car park will prove to be an invaluable asset in setting a standard for responsible access across Scotland.
“The funds generated from the car park will go some way to supporting the fragile infrastructure of this unique area in maintaining paths and access tracks for all, while also setting a high standard of maintenance and repair for all who use it.
“Every additional pound raised will only assist in improving the sustainability of the area for future generations.”
The opening of the Beinn a’ Ghlo car park follows the recent launch of It's Up to Us, an ambitious three-year fundraising campaign between OATS and Mountaineering Scotland.
It aims to bring in £300,000 for much-needed path repairs on An Teallach, one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains, whilst raising awareness of the need for investment in maintenance of informal routes on hills outside of Scotland’s national parks and NGO estates.
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