Highlands & Islands

Residents buy land near Fairy Pools to ease traffic

Fairy Pools on Skye Image copyright John Allan/Geograph
Image caption The series of waterfalls and pools in Glen Brittle have become a major tourist attraction

Residents on Skye have bought land near a popular tourist spot in a bid to reduce congestion in the area.

Locals say the high volume of visitors and traffic at the Fairy Pools has become "too much to bear".

Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) is the first to make use of a scheme which allows publicly-owned forestry assets to be transferred for the benefit of local communities.

The scheme is run by Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES).

The MCHA bought the 12.3 hectares of land for £2,500 - a discount of £27,500 on the market value - because of the "substantial public benefit that will be delivered".

'World-class attraction'

The series of waterfalls and pools in Glen Brittle have become a major tourist attraction and the area was recently named by travel guide Wanderlust as the best place in Britain for wild swimming.

Local MSP Kate Forbes said there were more than 108,000 visitors to the Fairy Pools last year, but access is restricted by a single-track road and a 35-space car park.

The MCHA plans to make space for 137 cars and about 20 mini-buses and camper vans in a bid to reduce congestion.

Image copyright Richard Dorrell/Geograph
Image caption The access road to the Fairy Pools is single track

The land acquisition was announced by Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop during a visit to Skye.

She said: "I am delighted FES have agreed to the sale of this land, which will help the local community respond to the pressures and opportunities that come with having a world-class attraction like the Fairy Pools on your doorstep.

"We recognise the recent surge in interest seen by some of our tourism sites, particularly in rural locations. That is why we recently announced a new £6m Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

"Alongside the Skye strategic group, the Scottish government will continue to do all we can to support sustainable growth in tourism, working in partnership with local communities - in Skye, throughout the Highlands & Islands and across Scotland."

'Too much to bear'

Julie Burnett, a director of MCHA, said: "This is a key milestone in the project to provide improved parking facilities close to the Fairy Pools.

"The community benefit of the land transfer and the overall project cannot be overstated.

"Both residents living in Glen Brittle and future visitors to the Fairy Pools will benefit from the proposal to expand and improve the existing small car park."

Ms Forbes said a "robust" tourist strategy was needed for Skye as a whole to improve infrastructure.

"The situation at the Fairy Pools has really become too much to bear for local residents who just want to go about their daily lives," she said.

"The single-track road is far too narrow for the volume of traffic parked at the Fairy Pools.

"We've reached a point where enough is enough and I'm pleased the Scottish government is facilitating the community asset transfer at the Fairy Pools."

She said she had begun a series of meetings to draft a strategy for the island.

"Tourists are welcome on Skye, it's our responsibility to ensure the infrastructure is prepared for them," she said.

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