South Loch Ness Trail - Fort Augustus to Loch Tarf Completed
Completion of the South Loch Ness Trail – a pathway for new tourism opportunities
VisitInvernessLochNess today announced at an event in Fort Augustus that work had now been completed on the last major section of the South Loch Ness trail between the Glendoe Hydro works entrance and Loch Tarff. The completion marks the culmination of a project which began 9 years ago, to create a trail 55km in length between Inverness and Fort Augustus on the south side of Loch Ness using a mixture of existing minor roads, paths, forest tracks and newly constructed trail where required.
Graeme Ambrose, CEO of VisitInvernessLochNess said, “We are absolutely delighted to be making this announcement today and to have Provost Helen Carmichael officially open the ‘final link’. It has been a long journey to get to this point. The 3.6km section between Glendoe and Loch Tarff has been particularly challenging and would not have been possible without funding support from SSE, The Highland Council and the Scottish Government & European Union totally £250,000, as well as the full support from Glendoe Estate over whose land the trail has been constructed. The opening of this section, linked to that constructed last year by SSE, from Glendoe down to Fort Augustus, opens up the South Loch Ness Trail to more walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders and, particularly on this section of the trail, to those of limited mobility”.
However, Mr Ambrose went on to say “what is really exciting about the announcement today is that the completion of the South Loch Ness Trail opens the way for the linking up of the trail with the Great Glen Way on the north side of Loch Ness and the creation of what will be known as the LochNess360° trail. This will create new opportunities for businesses, communities and, we are confident, deliver major economic benefit to the area in the long term. It will achieve this because it will attract visitors who may spend up to 6-7 days completing the full circuit. Today is just the beginning for the LochNess 360°, but we know from feedback that there is already substantial interest from key European markets, particularly Germany, and VisitInvernessLochNess hope by spring 2019 to confidently go out to markets and promote it. As part of the promotion we plan to launch a major new 3 day running/walking/cycling event on the trail in 2020, an event which will be very much based in the communities for the destination.”
Mike Seaton, SSE Director of Development said: “SSE is delighted to have been able to play an instrumental role in bringing the South Loch Ness Trail project to fruition.
“Energy and tourism are two of the most important sectors in the Highland economy and the completion of the South Loch Ness Trail is testament to what our two industries can achieve when they work together.
“We are thrilled that our overall £600,000 contribution to such a fantastic project will leave a lasting legacy for the local community and visitors to the area alike.”
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director said: "The announcement of the South Loch Ness Trail completion is fantastic news and will, we would hope, attract even more visitors who will be keen to complete the LochNess360° over a few days.
"There is breath taking scenery to be enjoyed round Loch Ness and the Great Glen, whether on horseback, two wheels or on foot. With a variety of rich habitats to explore, there is always the chance of spotting local wildlife, including buzzards and red deer.
"We promote Scotland with Scotland. Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy."
Inverness Provost & City Leader Helen Carmichael said: “Highland Council have supported the development of the South Loch Ness Trail by VisitInvernessLochNess since the idea was first suggested back in 2009, in recognition of the economic impact that it could bring to the area. We are therefore delighted that this last major section of the trail has now been completed enabling users to walk/cycle almost completely off road between Inverness and Fort Augustus”.
“It is also exciting to hear of the plans to link the South Loch Ness Trail with the Great Glen Way and create a LochNess360° trail, which I am sure will attract many long distance walkers and benefit not only tourism businesses around Loch Ness but also in Inverness”
Dick Beach, Fiddler’s Restaurant, Drumnadrochit, said “It’s fantastic to see the South Loch Ness Trail completed but even more exciting is the fact that this now enables VisitInvernessLochNess to take forward the marketing and promotion of a LochNess360° trail that is the icing on the cake. I am sure that that over the coming years this will prove to be of substantial benefit to all the communities around Loch Ness and beyond”
Notes for Editors:
Development of the South Loch Ness Trail dates back to 2009 when the then destination management organisation, Destination Loch Ness, with financial support from a number of organisations including local community groups, began work on establishing the trail. However, a lack of funding at the time meant that the trail stopped at Loch Tarff, 10km short of Fort Augustus. Despite this, the trail was launched in 2011 and it very quickly became clear that not only was it a valuable new asset for the area but one which, if extended down to Fort Augustus, had the potential to deliver substantial economic benefit not only to the area of South Loch Ness, but Loch Ness and Inverness area a whole if it were to be linked up with the Great Glen Way on the north side.
In 2014 the newly established Tourism Business Improvement District, VisitInvernessLochNess, took over responsibility for the South Loch Ness Trail development and made the commitment to complete the link down to Fort Augustus within 5 years. For 2 years little progress was made with completion of the ‘final 10km’ due to the challenging terrain over which the trail needed to be constructed and cost this would entail. However in 2017 SSE, as a planning consent condition of Stronelairg windfarm, constructed trail up to the entrance to the Glendoe Hydro works. This left only 3.6km of trail to construct to complete the final link. To gain the funding for this VisitInvernessLochNess applied to the Scottish Government & European Union, under the Improving Public Access Scheme and in January 2018 were awarded £143K. This together with further funding assistance from Highland Council (£60K) and SSE (£50K) enabled work to begin on the trail soon thereafter.
The trail has been constructed by Hitrak, based at Beauly and project managed by Phil Thompson, Inverness.
The event planned provisionally for 2020 is a truly ‘Monster Challenge’! Based in the communities around Loch Ness, the event to be developed by No Fuss Events in partnership with VisitInvernessLochNess, will offer participants a number of alternatives to choose from. These will be to complete 3 marathons (run or walk) in 3 days or complete an 80 mile ultra- marathon circuit of the loch in 24 hours or alternatively by mountain bike. And, for those for whom the thought of doing 3 marathons in three days is too much, these need not all be done in the three days of the event - participants will be able to return and complete their set of marathons whenever they wish