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New Great Glen Way diversion put in place to avoid SSE works at Coire Glas hydro scheme works


By John Davidson

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Great Glen Way users will soon be able to take the high road on another section of the long-distance route after a new diversion was put in place.

The detour, which has been constructed in advance of works taking place on SSE's proposed Coire Glas hydro pumped storage scheme, will open to the public on Monday.

The six-kilometre diversion will redirect Great Glen Way users from the current path, which traces the shore of Loch Lochy and traverses the lower site of the Coire Glas works, to link with a forest path higher up the hillside.

While involving more of a climb, the new path is said to offer panoramic views across the loch and the chance to see more wildlife.

Mark Hedderwick of HiTrak Ltd, Andrew Smith of SSE Renewables and Phil Thompson of Phil Thompson Ltd on the new Great Glen Way path. Picture: SSE
Mark Hedderwick of HiTrak Ltd, Andrew Smith of SSE Renewables and Phil Thompson of Phil Thompson Ltd on the new Great Glen Way path. Picture: SSE

Andrew Smith, development and consents manager for SSE Renewables on the Coire Glas project, said: “The Great Glen Way diversion is a key part of the overall delivery of our Coire Glas project. It presented some particular challenges, in terms of blending a new path into the steep lochside terrain. We turned to firms with expertise of delivering projects in the local area to make sure the project could be delivered on time and to a high standard.

“Now that the diversion is completed, we are thrilled with the result and confident it will prove popular with Great Glen Way users.”

Construction of the new path, which incorporates several new viewpoints and information panels, was conducted by Highland-based firms.

The project was designed and project managed by Inverness-based Phil Thompson Ltd, construction management services, while civil engineering works were carried out by HiTrak Ltd and the information boards were produced by MacDonald Orr Design of Arisaig.

Phil Thompson said: “Constructing the diversion path over the course of a Scottish winter was not without its challenges but we are happy with the result. The old route follows the line of the loch and is a very nice path.

"The new route is higher up and offers a bit more variety and, hopefully, perhaps a chance to see a bit more scenery and wildlife.”

Mark Hedderwick, of HiTrak Ltd, said: “As a local company we always welcome an opportunity to work on a project that gives us a chance to showcase the high quality of craftmanship available in the area.

"We worked with local stonemasons to create rest and shelter areas at various points along the path which will hopefully become a welcome feature on this section of the path.”

The new information boards which accompany the route, designed by Arisaig-based MacDonald Orr Design. Picture: SSE
The new information boards which accompany the route, designed by Arisaig-based MacDonald Orr Design. Picture: SSE

The existing Great Glen Way route will remain open until the start of exploratory works in October, to allow route users to access the wild camping site at Glas Dhoire Bay.

Coire Glas is a pumped hydro storage facility which would be the first scheme of its kind to be constructed in the United Kingdom for more than 30 years.

SSE Renewables is currently conducting early assessment work at the site, to the north of Loch Lochy, which will determine whether construction can proceed as planned.

An extensive programme of exploratory works is required before a final decision to invest in construction can be taken.


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