One of Scotland's most remote and sheltered sea lochs is ready to welcome even more visitors as the local Morvern community opens the new £215,000 Lochaline Marina.
The communities of the Highlands most south westerly peninsula are coming together during Morvern Games & Gala Week to celebrate their latest initiative which includes a new Harbour office, showers, toilets, laundry and wifi on the shore of Loch Aline, only minutes from the village of Lochaline.
The new facilities will be formally opened tomorrow [Wednesday 17 July] by Robin Smart, the former Chairman of MCDC who has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the Harbour and who stood down earlier this year.
The development will complement the Cala Loch Àlainn pontoons which were opened in July 2011. The 24-berth pontoons recorded over 1100 boat nights in the first 12 months of operating and these increased numbers of visitors contribute significant extra spend in this small community.
Led by Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC), the community successfully secured £150,000 from LEADER, £55,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and contributed £10,000 themselves to develop the shore facilities to complement the pontoons. The company draws its membership from the local community and is governed by a board of voluntary directors. The marina supports a part-time manager, employed and funded by MCDC.
Hector MacKechnie, Chairman of the Morvern Community Trading Company, the trading arm of MCDC, commented: “We are extremely proud of our new shore facilities at the Harbour and are looking forward to welcoming even more visitors to Lochaline. The pontoons are already well used as an overnight stop for yachts on the popular routes up and down the Sound of Mull and between Oban and Tobermory. Lochaline itself is described in many yachting magazines as offering some of the best all weather anchorages of any harbour in this part of the West coast. Our new facilities will really improve the experience for visitors to this spectacular part of the world.”
The community is delighted to be part of the Sail West project. Led by Donegal County Council, it is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body with co-funding provided by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.
Its aim is to develop sailing opportunities along the North West coast of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the West coast of Scotland. Lochaline also benefits from its three year MalinWaters marketing programme.
MCDC receives support from HIE and LEADER to employ a full-time Local Development Officer, Riona Whyte.
Ian Philp, of HIE commented: "The new pontoons at Lochaline have already proven to be a huge success with an increase in visitors to the area. The opening of the new facilities, developed and run by the local community, will further enhance the appeal of Lochaline and the surrounding area to the thousands of marine tourists who sail the west coast of Scotland each year. This is a great project by MCDC and we are delighted to support them.”
The pontoons were funded under the INTERREG Sailwest programme (a cross border programme with partners from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. HIE and Highland Council were additional partners in developing the £300,000 pontoons at Loch Aline.