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Corrieshalloch Gorge in Wester Ross poised for £2.3m 'gateway to nature' boost from the National Trust for Scotland in bid to improve visitor experience and look after a jewel in Ross-shire's crown


By Hector MacKenzie

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The Corrishalloch Gorge visitor project plans will be outlined next week
The Corrishalloch Gorge visitor project plans will be outlined next week

THE wraps will next week come off £2.3 million plans to develop a "gateway to nature" at one of Ross-shire's most popular visitor attractions.

Conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland is proposing new visitor facilities on the site of Corrieshalloch Gorge, which attracts around 140,000 visitors every year.

The "natural treasure" some 12 miles south of Ullapool boasts a spectacular mile-long canyon and river which can viewed from a suspension bridge and is surrounded by woodland trails.

The charity plans "sensitively-designed" new visitor facilities on the site of the historic suspension bridge including toilets, wi-fi, a 'blue loo' for camper vans, improved parking facilities and paths and improved wayfinding and interpretation around the National Nature Reserve (NNR).

With its stunning location and impressive scenery, Corrieshalloch Gorge has seen a 60 per cent increase in visitor numbers since 2012.

Key staff from the charity will be joined by Catriona Hill from project architects, Oberlanders, at an online event taking place on Tuesday evening.

Clea Warner, general Manager for the National Trust for Scotland in the Highlands and Islands, said: “The Trust is really pleased to be progressing with this important project and to sharing more about the plans at our virtual meeting. Many from the local community have shown their support so far and we are very grateful for this.

“Corrieshalloch Gorge is one of Scotland’s natural treasures and needs to be protected, now and for future generations. Our plans are to create a gateway to nature and to enhance the experience of this special place and they can be welcomed in a way that impacts less on the local environment and communities and helps keep the Highlands beautiful for everyone.”

Clea Warner: 'Corrieshalloch Gorge is one of Scotland’s natural treasures and needs to be protected, now and for future generations.'
Clea Warner: 'Corrieshalloch Gorge is one of Scotland’s natural treasures and needs to be protected, now and for future generations.'

The project has secured £923,277 funding from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, part of a new near-£9 million programme of projects to invest in quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage . The fund is led by NatureScot and part funded through the European Development Fund.

The fund aims to encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas and create and sustain jobs, businesses and services while protecting them.

Architect Catriona Hill has been appointed, along with engineers David Narro and Rybka and landscape architects Horner &Maclennan. Gardiner Theobald are providing project management and quantity surveying services.

Oberlanders chose its design team based on "excellent previous working relationships" and experience of similar projects within rural locations. It was involved in the award-winning Falls of Shin Visitor Centre near Lairg amongst others.

Catriona Hill said: “I think Corrieshalloch Gorge must be the Highlands’ best-kept secret. It is utterly spectacular and the sense of discovery on my first visit was something I will not forget. I am absolutely delighted to be leading an experienced and enthusiastic design team that will help the National Trust for Scotland to realise their aspirations for new visitor facilities at Corrieshalloch.

"The site has very particular challenges that will inform our design solutions, and we are looking forward to working together to create facilities that will mean visitors can stop in comfort and truly enjoy the experience."

She said: "We will ensure that the development will sit comfortably in the natural environment and that the new path network will open up an entirely new experience at the site."

The Tuesday, March 16 evening event at 7pm can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3e2VJts

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