Work is underway on a £300,000 upgrade of facilities at Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness - one of Historic Environment Scotland’s most popular sites.
The centrepiece of the investment is the creation of a new stairway in the Grant Tower, giving visitors easier access to the existing viewing platform, and its spectacular, iconic view over Loch Ness. The historic spiral staircase will remain in use, providing an alternative for those who want the experience of walking in the footsteps of the medieval lords who once lived in and fought over the castle. The new staircase is being crafted from sustainably sourced oak by a local firm based in Inverness.
Access for visitors will also be improved thanks to upgraded non-slip paths throughout the site and the addition of a new, surfaced path to replace a popular desire path. The Visitor Centre is receiving an £80,000 refurbishment of its toilets, with a refurbishment of the shop planned for late March.
Working at a site which can be traced back to the Pictish people, and which even has associations with St Columba comes with challenges. As a result of some of these, access to the Castle and grounds will be restricted from 26 February until mid-March, with only the Visitor Centre and café open as normal. From mid-March, much of the Castle will be open as normal, with restrictions only on the Grant Tower, while installation of the stairway is completed.
Welcoming the work, Visitor Services Manager Euan Fraser said “We welcomed more than 480,000 people to the castle last year.
“These improvements mean we will have the best possible facilities to welcome our visitors over the coming years. The new staircase in the Grant Tower will make access easier, giving more people a chance to enjoy the unrivalled view over the Loch.
“We’re also very pleased to have the opportunity to work with local suppliers.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away while work is going on, so the Visitor Centre and café will be open as normal, but for the next few weeks access to the Castle itself will be limited. We are reducing ticket prices while work is going on, and will be advising visitors of the other great sites that they can visit in the local area, such as Fort George, Beauly Priory and Clava Cairns.”
During works on the Grant Tower, the entrance prices for Urquhart Castle will be:
- Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
- Adult: £4.00
- YoungScot Cardholder: £1.00
- Child aged 5-15: £2.00
- Child under 5: FREE
- Concession: £3.00
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