The Cairngorms National Park celebrates its 10th anniversary today (Friday 22 March) with the official opening of a new visitor facility at Blair Atholl.
Visitors to Atholl and the Cairngorms National Park can now get all the information and inspiration they need in the new centre, which involved the refurbishment of the ranger base to also accommodate a visitor information hub and education centre. The site also contains the Atholl Museum of Country Life and a café.
Local MSP and Cabinet Secretary John Swinney officially opened the new facility today – and also had the honour of cutting the Cairngorms National Park 10th anniversary cake. Mr Swinney – who saw his campaign to have Atholl and Glenshee included in the National Park come to fruition in 2010 – said he was delighted to be guest of honour at today’s celebrations.
John Swinney MSP said: “I am very pleased to officially open the new visitor facility which will add greatly to the visitor experience of both Blair Atholl and the Cairngorms National Park. It is especially timely that on this the 10th anniversary of the creation of the National Park we have this facility to commission. Indeed the Cairngorms National Park Authority, since its inception in 2003 has invested a great deal of time and money – with partners – to ensure that visitor information facilities throughout the Park are helping visitors make the most of their time here.
“This investment here in Blair Atholl is significant and has only been made possible by the commitment and funding of multiple agencies working in partnership for the development of the excellent finished product which we see before us today.
“I welcome that this facility will increase visitor numbers and the range of people who will now come and experience our fabulous natural environment and in the process benefit local businesses and communities.”
Ten years of the Cairngorms National Park has brought many benefits to communities, businesses and the environment already and since Atholl and Glenshee were brought into the fold in 2010, the area has become a key gateway to the National Park with its rail links and proximity to the busy A9, Perth to Inverness road.
Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) Duncan Bryden said: “Together with Cairngorms communities and partners we have come a long way since 2003 and we are delighted our 10th anniversary coincides with the Year of Natural Scotland. The Cairngorms are a truly remarkable place and a jewel in Scotland's landscape crown. In the next 10 years we want everyone in Scotland to have the opportunity to visit their Park and enjoy the natural wonders on their doorstep.
“This Blair Atholl development of Ranger Base and Visitor Centre is exactly the sort of project that the National Park Authority has supported over the past 10 years, developing visitor facilities across the Park. We will continue to work with businesses and communities to support the local economy over the next decade whilst conserving the fantastic landscapes and nature of the Cairngorms National Park.”
This project has seen the courtyard area of the ranger base, the museum and the café all transformed. The ranger base has been renovated to become an information hub and education centre giving visitors information about Atholl and about the wider Cairngorms National Park. The car park has been upgraded, there is new outdoor seating and public toilets and there has been significant landscaping work.
The project has been developed by the Blair Atholl Area Tourist Association (BATTA) and the Blair Charitable Trust. Funding towards the £574,000 project has come from the CNPA, Perth & Kinross Council, Historic Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. With the potential to reach around 100,000 visitors every year, the new facility is being managed by Atholl Estates in partnership with BAATA.
Jenny Davidson, Chair of BAATA added: “The local people of Blair Atholl and surrounding areas are delighted to have this excellent facility which showcases the vast range of activities, attractions and services of the area. Now that Blair Atholl has been established as an intrinsic part of the Cairngorm National Park, with directional signage on the A9, we anticipate an upsurge in visitor numbers, and with it a boost to the local economy.
“We expect the centre will encourage our visitors to stay around longer and enjoy the natural beauty, history and hospitality of the area. We are indebted to all those who have provided the financial and material support, as well as the vision to develop this first class information centre.”
Sarah Troughton of Atholl Estates: “The old building has been transformed into a warm, welcoming and thoroughly informative space, by a very proactive public, private and community team.”
Leader of Perth & Kinross Council, Cllr Ian Miller commented: “This fantastic facility will help bring even more visitors to Highland Perthshire, giving the local economy a welcome boost in the process. Perth & Kinross Council is very happy to be involved in this project, and I am delighted to see the results today.”