Plans for the removal of the existing Mountain Visitor Centre have already been lodged with Perth and Kinross Council. The existing building was built on lower slopes of National Nature Reserve in the early 1970s to interpret the important features of the site and encourage thousands of visitors during the summer to minimise their impact. After decades of exposure to the elements, the NTS says that the timber structure was in need of significant repair and was no longer a suitable facility for visitors to the area. A review of interpretation and other facilities recommended a less obtrusive approach and in 2009, the NTS closed the facility alongside a number of other cost-cutting measures.
Now, the Trust is planning a series of improvements at the site which are intended to provide visitor facilities in a setting that is more suitable for the remote location which attracts so many visitors and walkers to Ben Lawers.
Key elements of the plan include the removal of the existing centre, re-locating the car park to a less visible site nearby, with appropriate landscaping to reinstate the moorland and provision of unmanned interpretation, available all year round. Property Manager and Ranger Helen Cole said: “Ben Lawers is one of Scotland’s most popular walking destinations, with 7 Munros, fabulous views over Loch Tay and a huge diversity of its plant and animal life.
“We now have an opportunity to improve provision for visitors, restoring the hillside to its former glory, and providing more modern and appropriate facilities for those who come to Ben Lawers, whether serious walkers or families on a ramble.
“An important consideration will be the impact that these new developments have on the landscape for which Ben Lawers is so well loved. As a conservation charity, we are committed to ensuring that the new facilities leave as little impact on the environment, both visually and otherwise, as possible. This work will enable the Trust to meet its key aims of encouraging everyone to explore their natural heritage, while ensuring that we protect Scotland’s landscapes for future generations.”
Walk descriptions which start from the current car park will be updated on Walkhighlands as soon as the new car park is up and running.