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30 Oct 2023

Work begins to improve visitor experience at Glencoe NNR

People walk along a path towards a viewpoint to admire 3 very steep mountains in front of them. On the right of the photo is a busy gravel parking area.
The upper parking area at the Three Sisters viewpoint
Improvement works are taking place in Glencoe National Nature Reserve over the autumn and winter, to improve visitor experience and road safety while helping to protect the precious and fragile landscape.

The programme of work at Glencoe and Glen Etive includes improvements at key viewpoints and parking areas. The works are funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and the Coastal Communities Fund as well as by the National Trust for Scotland.

With more than 2 million vehicles driving the 10-mile stretch of the A82 through the glen each year, and many stopping to explore and camp in neighbouring Glen Etive, this project aims to help reduce visitor pressure on the local community and environment, empowering visitors to act responsibly when they come to enjoy the area.

Glen Etive works

We have appointed a local firm – Oban-based McLaren Plant & Contracting – to undertake a number of small parking infrastructure works on the single-track Glen Etive road, between the A82 and the Trust’s land boundary at Dalness.

The popular Skyfall viewpoint in Glen Etive will be sensitively enlarged and surfaced to improve the presentation of this dramatic photo spot and to ensure stopping vehicles do not block traffic on the single-track road. A similar lay-by enlargement will take place at the Triple Falls, which is a popular parking place for canoeists, as well as at several other locations along the road where inappropriate parking in passing places and on verges causes damage to the landscape and traffic disruption.

Work began in September and will be complete in November 2023. As the works are off-road, there will be no disruption to the flow of traffic at this stage.

A Land Rover is parked at the grassy side of a single-track road running through a glen. A man and woman stand in front of the Land Rover, admiring the view.
The popular viewpoint in Glen Etive featured in the James Bond film Skyfall.

Three Sisters parking works

We have appointed a local firm – Ardgour-based Corrigan Contractors – to undertake re-surfacing and parking layout line marking work at the Three Sisters parking areas beside the A82 in the heart of Glencoe. This will take place over an eight-week period, scheduled to start on 30 October 2023. One of the two parking areas will remain open at any time.

Parking bays will be marked out on the ground to ensure a safe and organised parking capacity in the larger of the two parking areas, with the smaller parking area becoming dedicated to buses and coaches.

This work will bring essential improvements to road and parking safety at this popular location for sightseers and walkers heading for Coire Gabhail and Bidean nam Bian. Changes have been developed in collaboration with Transport Scotland and Bear Scotland in line with mandatory design standards for trunk roads.

In addition to the parking area improvement works, we are addressing landscape damage at an eroded area next to the Three Sisters car park, which is a popular spot for photo-taking. We are creating a more robust path to the viewpoint, sensitively designed to limit trampling on the surrounding vegetation.

Parking capacity at the Three Sisters will be limited during the construction work. We ask drivers to respect road signage, stop only in other designated parking areas and lay-bys, and not stop illegally on the roadside. Most work will be taking place off-road, limiting the disruption to road users, although there may be occasions when traffic management on the A82 will be in place.

In addition to the work at parking areas, this RTIF project has supported the Glencoe and Glen Etive Community SCIO to fund improvements to the footpath between the Clachaig Inn and Glencoe village earlier this summer. It will also fund improvements to signage and visitor waste hubs over the autumn and winter. These will give visitors clear information on how to respect, protect and enjoy this special area, and enable them to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.

“Glencoe is a world-renowned visitor attraction with one of the Highlands’ busiest trunk roads passing through it. This creates a unique set of challenges for our conservation charity, which has been custodian of these mountains since the 1930s. It can place pressure on fragile landscapes and also, at times, create road safety hazards.”
Emily Bryce
Operations Manager for Glencoe National Nature Reserve

Emily continued: ‘In the last few years, our team has worked very closely with the local community, The Highland Council and Transport Scotland to develop projects which aim to sensitively address the issues. These projects support the Trust’s vision of nature, beauty and heritage for everyone, aiming to provide a reasonable level of fit-for-purpose parking infrastructure and enabling people to park safely and responsibly. We are also seeking to develop car-free ways to access the glen as an alternative to driving in.

‘We are grateful to the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which has supported these initiatives in Glencoe and Glen Etive. The generosity of our charity’s members and supporters has also been crucial in allowing us to invest in, conserve, care for and share this amazing place. We’re excited to complete this programme of work, which has been in development for several years, and appreciate the patience of visitors and road users while work is taking place.’

The project to reduce visitor impact in Glencoe and Glen Etive is run in partnership with The Highland Council, the National Trust for Scotland, and Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council SCIO; it has been awarded funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF). The RTIF was established by the Scottish Government and the fund is managed by VisitScotland on its behalf. To date, £18 million of grant funding has been awarded to 74 projects across rural Scotland, since the start of the fund in 2018.