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24 Jan 2022

Work begins on Corrieshalloch Gorge Gateway

Deep ravine, thick with green vegetation and a waterfall
Contractors are now onsite at Corrieshalloch Gorge, as we begin to build new visitor facilities.

Site preparation has started on our project to improve visitor facilities at Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve, one of the most picturesque and popular sites in the Highlands.

The Corrieshalloch Gorge Gateway will create sensitively designed new visitor facilities on the site of the historical suspension bridge enabling visitors to enjoy an enhanced experience. Developments will include an outdoor coffee stop, covered outdoor seating area, toilets, Wi-Fi, a blue loo for camper vans, improved parking facilities and charging points for electric vehicles. A larger network of paths will be created, with wayfinding and interpretation around the National Nature Reserve.

Illustration of new visitor facility plans at Corrieshalloch Gorge
Illustration of new visitor facility plans at Corrieshalloch Gorge

General Manager for the Highlands and Islands Clea Warner said: “It is really exciting to start the new year with this fantastic project which will make such a positive impact on the area, for the community, for conservation of this important site, and for visitors too. Corrieshalloch Gorge is beautiful and an important place for nature and people; this project will give people a gateway to enjoy all that makes this much-loved place so special.”

Work to clear the site is now underway, preparing for new foundations to be laid thereafter and the new buildings are planned for construction throughout the summer.

The main contractors on the project are Simpson Builders, a Beauly-based firm who are excited to be working on this important project. Gordon Simpson, Managing Director at Simpson Builders said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this exciting contract by the National Trust for Scotland. The new Corrieshalloch Gorge facilities will, no doubt, be a welcome addition to this beautiful part of the Highlands, and we are very proud to be the main contractor.”

Simpson Builders will be supported by a range of sub-contractors, many who are locally based including Pat Munro Ltd from Alness, and R&I Cruden based in Muir of Ord. The design team for the project is Oberlanders Architects led by Catriona Hill, David Narro (Civil & Structural Engineers), Rybka (Mechanical and Electrical Engineers) and Horner & Maclennan (Landscape Architects) to provide design team services for the Corrieshalloch Gorge Visitor Centre project. Gardiner and Theobald are providing Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Health and Safety Services.

With the advice and support of Trust conservation experts, the works have been designed and programmed to take account of the sensitive needs of the site, for example planned new pathways will include boardwalks to protect tree roots, and any landscaping around the buildings will focus on featuring native, and ideally, local plant species. In addition, the shape and scale of buildings has been kept to a minimum and sustainable features including rainwater harvesting, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery have been built in too.

The £2.3 million project has secured £923,277 funding from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund which is led by NatureScot and funded through the European Regional Development Fund. It is part of an almost £9 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and Islands, to provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets.

Eleanor Carlisle, Project and Funding Officer, NatureScot said: “Corrieshalloch Gorge is already a wonderful place to enjoy a walk and soak in the amazing sights, with the lovely woodlands and the Falls of Measach plummeting into the gorge. We’re pleased to support this ambitious project through our ERDF Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, making Corrieshalloch Gorge an even better, more accessible, experience for visitors.”

Group of people in woodland area
Trust colleagues and contractors onsite at Corrieshalloch Gorge.
A logo for the European Regional Development Fund, showing the EU flag beside a Scottish saltire. Next to this logo is the logo for NatureScot, showing a blue and green leaf.