An award-winning camping and caravan site on the shores of Loch Ness is to feature in an initiative showcasing the benefits provided by landowners to Scotland’s communities.
Loch Ness Shores, a stunning campsite located on the southeast shore of the loch, has been chosen to take part in Scottish Land & Estates’ ‘Helping It Happen’ campaign.
The area occupied by the business was originally part of the 49 hectare farm, which the Forbes family tenanted for generations, which Donald and Lyn Forbes purchased in 1994.
With a growing awareness that tourism provided the best opportunity for sustainable growth in an area of outstanding beauty, Donald decided to diversify his agricultural business and in July 2013 Loch Ness Shores became a reality. The quality of what has been achieved is reflected in the sites credentials, which include a Gold Green Tourism Award and 5 star accreditation from VisitScotland.
Donald and Lyn have created a sustainable business, open all year round, bringing hundreds of new visitors to an area that had suffered following the departure of British Aluminium Co. in 1967. This has resulted in two new businesses opening and Craigdarroch Country House Hotel changing its business model, creating a pub for locals and visitors - the first in the village for over a decade.
All these initiatives have created additional employment in the area and Loch Ness Shores provides employment for three local people, as well as work for Donald, Lyn and family. This is expected to grow significantly in the future with the campsite projecting a further five full-time-equivalent jobs, as their plans for the site progress.
Donald said: “We are delighted to be participating in the Helping It Happen initiative which will hopefully bring more recognition about what can be achieved through landownership.
“Whilst it is only a small amount of land that the farm - and now the holiday park stands on - it is clear that we can have a supportive influence on the community through our own business. When lots of visitors come to Loch Ness Shores, it helps other businesses we also work in partnership with and enables job creation. This positive aspect is one of the most pleasing aspects since we opened two years ago.
“It is not what I expected to be doing in retirement - it is even harder work than farming - but the benefits to the economy that has been in decline for the last fifty years has certainly been very significant.”
The camping and caravanning site has easy access to the loch for those who want to fish, from the shore or a boat, with permits for salmon fishing also available. The Great Glen Canoe Trail passes the site and Donald and Lyn offer free camping, for on the shore adjacent to the campsite. However, many of the paddlers take the opportunity to come on site and take advantage of the facilities which have won two prestigious awards in 2015, including the Loo of the Year for Holiday Parks.
The impact on community and future developments both business and housing, mean minimising finite resources have been a key priority for Donald and Lyn, this has included using bore holes for all water required for heating and hot water on site. These eco-friendly initiatives, which Energy Saving Scotland describe as innovative, resulted in Loch Ness Shores being awarded the 2015 National Winner Scotland Eco Friendly Loos (across all sectors) in Scotland.
The extensive network of paths and wildlife attract bird watchers, walkers, cyclists and fishers who stay in the wonderfully appointed Wigwam Cabins. Donald and Lyn’s preference for buying local and Scottish, whenever possible, extends to all the buildings on site and the products they sell in their site shop.
This business development has also created opportunities to work in partnership with other local businesses, hiring out boats, kayaks and electric bikes for other providers, with Donald and Lyn committed to ensuring priority is given to benefiting the local area from the additional visitors who frequent the campsite.