Mainland Britain’s most remote pub has reopened its doors after an extensive six-month refurbishment.
The Old Forge, on the northern shore of Loch Nevis on the Knoydart Peninsula, requires a 15-mile hike through the Highlands to reach it.
The pub was bought under community ownership in March 2022 by The Old Forge Community Benefit Society (CBS) after being run for a decade by its previous owner.
The refurb has been on the cards since the beginning, with the group raising over £1m to purchase and then upgrade the building.
Stephanie Harris, business development manager of The Old Forge CBS said: “We knew even before buying the pub that the building was in need of significant upgrade, so we incorporated a refurbishment into our plans from the outset. We did the best we could in our first trading season to make the pub a comfortable space, but it was a struggle just to keep it warm and dry.”
After a successful first season under the new ownership, work began in January of this year. A core team of four local residents, including joiners Davie Newton and Mark Harris, led the refurb and were supported by around 20 local and external tradespeople and labourers at different stages throughout the project.
The original part of the building, built in the late 1700’s, was stripped back to four walls and the public bar area redesigned to create more space for customers, and a bigger bar.
Parts of the original stone walls were rebuilt and are now a feature in the design, giving a small nod to the building’s history.
Knoydart Forest Trust timber also features throughout, including on the new bar top which showcases the names of hundreds of crowdfunders who supported the groups fundraising efforts.
The majority of the extension at the rear of the building was demolished and rebuilt, and now houses upgraded washroom facilities, kitchen, cellar and store rooms.
Speaking about the importance of the refurbishment, Stephanie said: “It was imperative for us to return the pub to being a welcoming and comfortable space for locals and visitors to enjoy.
“The redesigned layout is subtle but will improve operations massively, and also allow us more flexibility to provide services the community wants and needs.
“The addition of a new ‘wee bar’ which will open later in the year will provide a cosier space in the winter months when it’s quiet, we could offer it for function hire, or community groups could use it for events.”
She added: “Being a community-owned pub means that we all have a personal stake in its success. We want the pub to be a welcoming place where all locals and visitors can come together and have a nice time, and the recent refurb will help us achieve that.
“The support from the community over the last six months has been exceptional, and we’re so excited to be back open again and able to enjoy each other’s company in a lovely setting.”
The pub reopened on Friday August 4 to an eager crowd of thirsty customers waiting outside in the sunshine.
Stephanie said: “It was down to the wire whether we would be able to get everything ready to open, so we decided to leave the announcement until the last moment. Despite the short notice, an eager crowd gathered outside within an hour or two, and the door reopened to cheers and a wee tune on the pipes from one of our local musicians.”
The refurbishment has also allowed for expansion of services, which will include reintroducing restaurant service later this month.
Local seafood and venison features throughout the new menu, along with a great selection of hearty pub-grub dishes, so there’s something for everyone.
Restaurant service will commence before the end of August, and details on how to make reservations will be put on the pub website once ready.
The Old Forge is open daily from midday.