All-abilities access improvements in Glen Nevis
Last week saw the installation of a new all-abilities crossing over the River Nevis, adjacent to the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, near Fort William. The 31 tonne structure has a span of 42 meters and was lifted in to place with the aid of a 750 tonne mobile crane. It has been designed to accommodate the high visitor numbers experienced at this popular site and replaces an older structure nearby, which will be removed.
Other improvements included in the project are upgraded access to the existing bridge at the youth hostel and upgraded paths to provide an all-abilities riverside walk between the visitor centre and youth hostel. The project is being delivered by Highland Council and Nevis Landscape Partnership, and is funded by The Highland Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Rural Development Programme and Sport Scotland.
Dingwall-based consulting engineers, Wallace Stone, worked with Highland Council and other stakeholders to develop designs for the new bridge. The Highland Council awarded the works contract to Fion Construction Ltd, based in Fort William. The steelwork was fabricated by A.J. Engineering, Forres. Works have been on site since October 2016 and are scheduled for completion by mid-March. During construction works temporary diversions are in place in order to maintain access to Ben Nevis at all times. Temporary diversions are clearly signed. Access via Achintee remains available at all times.
The Highland Council owns Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, which receives around 65,000 visitors per annum, with numbers climbing Ben Nevis itself at around 120,000 per annum. In addition to investment in the bridge, The Highland Council is also contributing £35,000 to refurbishment of the visitor centre which will provide new and informative displays including vital mountain safety information for those venturing to the summit of Ben Nevis.
Lochaber Committee Chairman, Councillor Thomas MacLennan said: “Lochaber is very much a year-round holiday destination with more and more visitors arriving each year so it is great news that these improvement works are well underway. The new all-ability bridge will make a big difference by allowing a far wider range of visitors the chance to access and explore the splendid scenery of this iconic glen than ever before.”
Alex Farquhar, Chair of the Nevis Landscape Partnership said: “The placing of the new footbridge is a highly visible reminder of the work done by the Nevis Landscape Partnership in ensuring continued access to Ben and Glen Nevis for visitors and local people alike. We thank the contractors for their work over the winter months to get the bridge in place and look forward to the completionof the upgraded paths over the coming weeks. Our gratitude must also go to all our partner organisations, particularly the Highland Council in making this project possible.”