Fairy Pools car park and off-grid toilets officially open

The facilities were built on the Isle of Skye following years of congestion from cars, and litter and waste management issues.

A car park and off-grid toilets at the Fairy Pools beauty spot on the Isle of Skye are being officially opened by finance secretary Kate Forbes.

The facilities were built following years of congestion from parked cars, and litter and waste management issues, around the site near Glenbrittle.

The site, which has benefited from an £800,000 investment, now has a 140-space car park and off-grid toilet block and can safely accommodate 200,000 visitors a year.

Forbes is visiting the area on Monday to formally open the facilities, which have been fully operational since October 2020.

The project was spearheaded by Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA), the local community volunteer organisation, the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (Oats) and the Highland Council Development and Infrastructure Service.

Forbes said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to support the improvements that have been made to the infrastructure at the Fairy Pools, improving the facilities at one of our most iconic tourist destinations.

“The Scottish Government are supporting our rural communities as much as possible to cope with the increased numbers looking to enjoy Scotland’s countryside, especially as we encourage people to staycation this year.

“Scotland has world-leading legislation giving people rights to access our countryside, but it’s important that these are exercised responsibly and with respect for others, for wildlife and for the land itself.

“Investing in visitor management and supporting our rural communities is a crucial part of sustainable tourism growth.”

Funding for the project came from Leader – which delivers support to communities for rural development – Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Land Fund, Oats and MCHA.

The Fairy Pools are a series of waterfalls and pools on the River Brittle at the foot of the Black Cuillins on Skye.

They have become popular as a place for wild swimming, drawing visitors from around the world.

In 2015 an “unsustainable” 82,000 people visited the Fairy Pools, and by 2019 this had risen to more than 180,000 people.

Project organisers said the narrow single-track access road was regularly blocked with parked cars, while verges were damaged and local residents, businesses and emergency services had to deal with significant disruption.

The lack of infrastructure and onsite facilities also led to path and habitat degradation and litter and waste management issues.

MCHA used the Community Asset Transfer scheme to acquire the land from Forestry and Land Scotland.

The car park site was then leased to Oats for a 20-year period on condition that they construct, operate and maintain the car park and toilets.

Dougie Baird, Oats chief executive, said: “There is a long-term issue of lack of basic infrastructure at popular remote destinations throughout Scotland.

“The effects can be far reaching, with disruption to community and business and damage to the very special locations that people wish to see.

“The hugely successful landlord/tenant collaboration forged between MCHA and Oats is the perfect model to demonstrate how effective third-sector partnerships can address these issues.

“As well as actively protecting important and fragile assets and ensuring visitors enjoy a positive experience, the project generates revenue that will continue to provide funds for local community objectives and local and national environmental conservation. The legacy will be significant.

“It has only been possible with the provision of government grants to provide a platform to raise the rest of the funds required, and I am sure this will offer visitors a vastly improved experience whilst providing sustainability to the management of the site.”

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