Global Network of National Geoparks

Lochaber tourism campaign steps up

Source : Source: Published :June 8, 2009

Minister Back Efforts to Protect Area’s Geological Heritage

LOCHABER’S campaign to increase public awareness of the area’s geology and its great outdoors yesterday won ministerial blessing.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham was on a fact-finding visit on the first day of the European Geopark Festival to hear about efforts being made to preserve its landscape.

She travelled to Lochaber Rural Complex at Torlundy, near Fort William, to discuss initiatives being undertaken by various organisations including Lochaber Geopark, the Nevis Partnership, Sunart Oakwoods and the Outdoor Capital of the UK project.

The minister told delegates: “The Lochaber Geopark is a fascinating project which, together with the North-West Highland Geopark, is dedicated to protecting the area’s geological heritage and promoting sustainable development.

“Together with the local authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a host of environmentally-focussed groups, much is being done to preserve the character of this unique area.”

She was told that one of the latest initiatives was a proposal to extend the existing 1,350-mile International Appalachian Trail in the US with several hundreds of miles of paths in Scotland.

The existing US trail stretches from Maine to the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, connecting two countries, five provinces, one state, and the English, French and Celtic cultures of North America. A delegation from the Appalachian Trail is visiting Lochaber to promote closer links since ancient Scottish mountains and the American range were born from the same geological source.

Lochaber Geopark’s project officer Keith Hoole said: “There is a huge amount of interest in this visit and we believe it is a wonderful opportunity to further our aims of promoting the Highlands on the global stage and to also publicise the International Appalachian Trail here”.

The American group will today climb Ben Nevis with Mountaineering Council of Scotland president Chris Townsend.

Trail president Dick Anderson said: “The long-term goal is to locate sections of the trail in all the countries or regions that were once part of the ancient Caledonian-Appalachian Mountain range”