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Work on toilet block at Fairy Pools and paths at Old Man of Storr on Skye to resume

By John Davidson

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The Fairy Pools on Skye are a big hit with tourists, but the site has become overwhelmed with visitors in recent years.
The Fairy Pools on Skye are a big hit with tourists, but the site has become overwhelmed with visitors in recent years.

Development of new public toilets and path works on Skye are getting back under way as construction workers start to return to work.

Work on improvements to the main path at the Old Man of Storr are due to restart on Monday, June 22, as the country begins a gradual easing from lockdown.

The principal contractor for the renovation of 600m of the existing path, McGowan Ltd from Aviemore, had previously made good progress before lockdown, with the majority of path material bagged and ready for helicopter lift onto the hillside.

The improvement works aim to improve the experience for visitors and reduce the erosion and vegetation loss that has slowly been progressing over the years.

At the Fairy Pools near Glenbrittle, an off-grid sewage system and processing tank is being installed with capacity for 200,000 annual visitors. The toilets, alongside an already completed 140-space car park, are expected to open in mid-August.

The Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) is managing both projects, alongside Highland Council at Storr and the Minginish Community Hall Association at Glenbrittle.

Local Highland councillor John Gordon is delighted that the works are able to re-commence.

He said: “Works at both these sites will make a significant difference for the enjoyment for locals and tourists alike. Not only will the work protect and care for the environment, but the partnership working has worked well and secured substantial funding which will continue beyond these works as we look at future projects.”

Bagging stone for the path renovation works at the Old Man of Storr. Picture: OATS
Bagging stone for the path renovation works at the Old Man of Storr. Picture: OATS

Dave Till, chairman of tourism group SkyeConnect, said: “The resumption of work at the Fairy Pools and the Storr is good news for our potential visitors when we move to the latter phases of the government’s plans for easing lockdown.

“We would appeal to members of the public to abide by the government's instructions for the time being and stay away from these areas unless they are local residents. SkyeConnect will continue to work with OATS and other community bodies to achieve our goal of creating a safe and sustainable visitor experience on Skye.”

While tourists are being told to stay away during the current phase of lockdown, businesses are pleased to se a potential opening up of the tourism industry from mid-July.

Henrik Micski, project officer on behalf of Minginish Community Hall Association, said: "We are delighted work to finalise the toilet block has restarted. Although the current situation has removed visitor pressures on the site, the tourism industry has now been given a route out of lockdown. It will be a welcome and much-needed addition to the visitor experience, with increased environmental protection, if the toilet block is complete when visitors return.”

Dougie Baird, CEO of OATS – contract administrator for the Old Man of Storr project and project manager for the Fairy Pools project, said: "We have been working with contractors to find safe ways to get back to work on the path project at the Old Man of Storr, both for workers and the wider community. We are delighted that this work is able to restart with appropriate procedures in place.’’

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