Car parking fees from the new Beinn a’ Ghlo car park at Loch Moraig, near Blair Atholl, will be invested in environmental charity’s annual mountain path maintenance volunteer programme.
John Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, has today, Wednesday 07 June 2023, opened a new 60 space trailhead car park for hill walkers on Beinn a’ Ghlo and its three Munro summits near Blair Atholl on the southern edge of the Cairngorms National Park.
The £172,000 partnership building project was spearheaded by OATS and funded by both the Cairngorms National Park Authority and OATS.
A share of visitor income from the parking fees will be directly re-invested into the Volunteer Path Maintenance Programme run by OATS. Hill users will be making a welcome contribution towards essential path repair on Beinn a’ Ghlo and other upland paths in the Cairngorms National Park that are enjoyed by thousands of walkers every year.
John Swinney MSP said: “It was a great pleasure to open this new car park at Beinn a’ Ghlo. This valuable facility is a testament to the effective partnership between the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, demonstrating their commitment to promoting responsible access and environmental stewardship. 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.”
Before the car park was built the Beinn a’ Ghlo trailhead was just an informal parking area off a narrow access road, that resulted in local habitat degradation and muddy verges, as well as litter issues. OATS worked closely with the landowner, Lude Estate, and the Park Authority to find a lasting solution to protect the local environment, improve the visitor experience and to raise funding for mountain path maintenance.
The car park opening at Beinn a’ Ghlo follows the recent launch of It’s Up to Us, an ambitious three-year partnership campaign between OATS and Mountaineering Scotland. It aims to raise £300,000 for much-needed path repairs on An Teallach, one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains, whilst raising awareness of the desperate need for investment in the repair and maintenance of informal mountain paths situated on land outside of Scotland’s national parks and NGO estates.
Outdoor enthusiasts, active tourism businesses and organisations that care deeply about Scotland’s hills and mountains are being encouraged to step up and give something back by donating to the fundraising appeal. It’s up to all of us to give back what we can when we can to the mountains we treasure that give so much to so many.
Dougie Baird, Chief Executive of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, said: “More people are taking to the hills. There is a lack of basic access infrastructure at popular remote destinations throughout Scotland. The effects can be far reaching with disruption to landowners, communities and businesses and damage to the very special locations that people love.
“OATS has a wealth of expertise and experience in finding collaborative partnership solutions to these access and visitor management issues. 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.”
Xander McDade, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “I am delighted that we have helped fund this project which will enable people to park safely and enjoy the mountains, while also developing a valuable funding stream to look after the paths in the National Park. The project is another great example of our collaborative approach to sustainable tourism and involves the land manager, a charity and the public sector. I want to thank everyone for their spirit of cooperation that is so important to make this kind of project happen“.
Duncan Gordon, Lude Estate, said: “Having worked with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland on this project for over seven years, Lude Estate is delighted to finally see it come to fruition. 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”.
Beinn A’ Ghlo Carn Liath path restoration and car park development and The Mountains and The People Project
The new Beinn a’ Ghlo car park is the perfect addition to the Carn Liath path which replaced the scar on the mountain visible from the A9. Repaired with 900 metres of stone pitching in 2019, this path was also opened by John Swinney MSP.
Funding for the repair came from the OATS managed Mountains and The People Project, a five year, £5 million, partnership path restoration project in Scotland’s two national parks.
Together the new car park and path repair means almost £400,000 has been invested in this spectacular mountain in the Cairngorms National Park which is both easily accessible and popular with walkers from Central Scotland.
In 2015, the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland were asked by Scotland’s two National Park Authorities to develop a partnership project to protect the mountains in Scotland’s National Parks. This 5-year project, entitled The Mountains and The People, had a suite of integrated programmes, the largest of which being the Upland Path Repair programme where 125km of the most damaged upland paths were prioritised and built into the project programme – 85% hand-built / 15% machine-built.
Carn Liath on Beinn a’Ghlo in the Cairngorms was established as a Priority 1 Path due to the extent of existing damage along the route and the risk to fragile, unique flora and fauna from trampling disturbance.
Beinn a’Ghlo has such a diversity of flora and fauna that it has been designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest as well as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area, recognising the importance of the area for conservation and wildlife.
The Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland
OATS, a ground-breaking environmental charity that promotes sustainable public access, has a wealth of expertise and experience in finding solutions to trailhead access and path erosion and habitat degradation issues. Lessons learned on The Mountains and The People, and the profile that project has given to high-grade path-building, mean OATS is in a strong position to help resolve access and visitor management issues throughout Scotland.
Charging a modest sum for mountain trailhead car-parking which is then ploughed directly back into path maintenance and seed funding for the developing other car park facilities and off-grid toilets is one excellent way OATS has learned to do this.
OATS has already shown that the Fairy Pools (Isle of Skye) car-parking model, with receipts funding path building at this site and others, works well. They have expanded this model with a car park at Beinn a’ Ghlo in Perthshire, with plans at an advanced stage at Stac Pollaidh in Coigach.
Demonstrating that a model works makes it more attractive as a solution to landowners and communities, and the car-parking model itself is adaptable for different places and partners.
It’s Up to Us
It’s Up to Us will focus on engaging Government, stakeholder agencies and organisations, outdoor businesses, and all path users to ensure that essential funding for hill path repair and habitat restoration is recognised for its social, health and wellbeing, economic and environmental benefits. From this Mountaineering Scotland and OATS will look to develop a sustainable and long-term funding model for hill path maintenance projects to improve access to investment for all Scotland’s mountain paths.
Mountaineering Scotland and OATS have earmarked the hill path from Dundonnell on An Teallach, one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains, for investment from the It’s Up to Us fundraising appeal. The £300,000 restoration project will address decades of erosion caused by the cumulative impact of increased human activity and the extremes of Scottish weather. An Teallach is a clear example of a popular mountain path on privately owned land with no government funding currently available.
Visit: www.savemountainpaths.scot to find out more and donate. Follow all the latest campaign news using the hashtags: #ItsUptoUs and #SaveMountainPaths