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Community takes a step towards buyout of Old Forge Inn at Knoydart

By Mike Merritt

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The Old Forge on the Knoydart peninsula. Picture: John Davidson
The Old Forge on the Knoydart peninsula. Picture: John Davidson

Locals are set to be offered shares to buy mainland Britain's remotest pub.

An application for taxpayer cash from the Scottish Land Fund has also been made to purchase the isolated drinking hole.

People in the Knoydart area previously delayed launching a crowdfunder to raise £250,000 to help them towards buying The Old Forge.

The inn on Scotland's west coast can only be reached by boat or walking 18 miles through the mountains from the nearest road.

It is listed by Guinness World Records as the remotest on mainland Britain.

Belgian owner Jean-Pierre Robinet has put it on the market at offers over £425,000.

Residents were informed in mid-January of the planned sale and a local consultation was held to gauge local opinion on seeking a community buyout – with the response being "overwhelmingly supportive".

But now The Old Forge Community Benefit Society has announced that its application to be officially recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority was approved this week "and this means we can really crack on".

In an update it added:"Our business plan is finalised and we have a strong, viable model for a community-owned pub should we be successful in purchasing the pub.

"Our application to the second stage Scottish Land Fund has been submitted. Now the wait begins, and we hope to have a decision in September.

"We are in the process of creating the prospectus for the community share offer, and we are being supported in this by Community Shares Scotland.

"The share offer will be issued to Knoydart residents first – the CBS must have a 75 per cent share membership from within the community, so the number of community members will dictate how many non-resident shares we can offer.

"Given our small population density this number will be low, so as we mentioned before we aim to launch a crowdfund too where more people can get involved."

Earlier this year the group received grant support of £18,970 from the Scottish Land Fund to conduct early-stage feasibility works, instruct a solicitor and also begin working with a business plan consultant to create a five-year plan which will support its bid.

The Knoydart community has a track record of successful community ownership, having secured 17,500 acres of the Knoydart Estate in 1999 as one of the first community buyouts in Scotland.

Of the 110 local residents, over 30 have offered to volunteer their time to the cause and working groups have been set up for all aspects of the project from business planning and fundraising to post-purchase management plans.

The Scottish Land Fund said this is not the first pub it has helped.

Funding manager Evelyn Boyd said: "We funded the Black Bull Gartmore pub in Stirlingshire last year. They got £222,000 for the actual pub and they turned it in to a community hub as well as running the pub."

The Old Forge pub and restaurant is on the main sailing route to Skye, the Outer Hebrides and the Small Isles and attracts yachtsmen, hill walkers and tourists, who flock to the area throughout the year.

Selling agents Baird Lumsden say: "For decades, the Old Forge has been the holy grail of the British outdoors community."

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