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Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Complex

Ardnamurchan Peninsula, Highlands & Islands, Scotland

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust

Restoration of lighthouse complex to generate more activity on site

Category A

Situated on the most westerly point on the British mainland, the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse complex is set against a backdrop of panoramic views across the Small Isles and Inner Hebrides. The complex comprises the 35-metre tower along with former lighthouse keepers’ cottages, steading and former principal keeper’s house complete with original lighthouse machinery and the foghorn. It was designed by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson and built in 1849 using granite from the Isle of Mull, with Egyptian-style detailing.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust (ALT) has managed the site as a visitor attraction since 1996 with tower tours, shop, café and self-catering accommodation, plus a network of paths to explore this attractive headland. However, feedback from visitors had indicated that the site was falling below expectations and transferring the site into community ownership was seen as a way in which ALT would be able to access further funding to improve the site.

In 2020, immediately prior to Covid lockdown, the site (with the exception of the tower, still in active use for navigation) was acquired by ALT. During the lockdown period, ALT was able to make some improvements to the entrance and café area and attention has now turned to refurbishing the keeper’s cottages as self-catering holiday units; this is a key part of generating activity on the site, extending the season and growing income.

The AHF has supported this project on three occasions – initially, with a Project Development Grant to aid early conservation planning for the whole site, which is A-listed, helping to successfully build the business case for a bid to the Scottish Land Fund for acquisition funding. Secondly, in the face of an abrupt and almost total loss of income at the point of acquisition and start of the 2020 season, some emergency revenue funding was awarded towards overheads including core staff costs, to help ensure initial planned works could be commenced. The most recent grant has supported design team fees to carry out a more detailed condition report and measured survey of the keeper’s cottages to inform their upcoming refurbishment.

This project demonstrates how AHF funds can be used to address an immediate need, or ‘next step’ in taking a project forward; an incremental approach that is necessary when things don’t always go to plan.

Image Credits

Michael Macgregor and Stephanie Cope

AHF Funding

Project Development Grant - £8,207 (2018)

Emergency Support Grant - £8,000 (2020)

Project Viability Grant - £4,188 (2021)

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