New visitor facilities at the National Trust for Scotland’s Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve in Perthshire, designed to be more in keeping with the mountain landscape, are now open to the public.
The major piece of landscape restoration by the Trust started in autumn 2010 with the removal of the old 1970s Mountain Visitor Centre and car park. The site has since been reinstated to moorland, with a new car park placed in a less visible site within a woodland setting. New unmanned outdoor interpretation has also been created to tell the unique stories of the reserve and to provoke visitors to think about the significance of the site.
The design of these new interpretive structures takes inspiration from ruined shielings – small buildings where farmers lived when their livestock were grazing in the hills. Traces of these dwellings can be found scattered across the Ben Lawers reserve. Built using locally reclaimed stone, these enclosures house sculptural installations created by Edinburgh based artist Tim Chalk.
The sculptures - which highlight significant aspects of the mountain’s flora, archaeology and the Trust’s conservation work – consist of several large carvings, a stone mosaic that winds through the shieling and a seasonal sundial.
Property Manager Helen Cole said:
"Ben Lawers is one of Scotland's most popular walking destinations, with seven Munros, fabulous views over Loch Tay and a huge diversity of plant and animal life.
“The new interpretation will help add to the sense of place, of this important mountain landscape whilst relating its history and the significance of its natural history.
“We hope these new facilities will enable the Trust to meet its key aims of encouraging everyone to explore their natural heritage, while ensuring that we protect Scotland’s landscape for future generations.”
Visitors can now experience the new low key facility all year round. They will also be able to enjoy new paths links from the car park to the low and high level walks on the reserve. The selfguiding booklet to the nature trail on the lower slopes of Beinn Ghlas has also been updated and can be purchased on site from a dispenser.
The conservation at Ben Lawers also includes pioneering work to restore threatened plant communities, footpath work and an annual programme of guided walks and educational work.
Ben Lawers NNR has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1950. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation under the European Habitats Directive for the exceptional examples of a number of habitats, rare on a European scale.
The reserve is widely known for its outstanding range and diversity of arctic-alpine species and vegetation types. It is important for the very large number of nationally rare or scarce montane plant species that it supports, including vascular plants, lichens, and bryophytes. It also has an outstanding diversity of invertebrates with many nationally rare or notable species.
The National Trust for Scotland is one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, which relies on the financial support of its members to fund its important work of caring for the natural and cultural heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy.
You can join the National Trust for Scotland for as little as £5.50 per month for a family. To become a member, visit nts.org.uk/Join/Benefits/.
All information and photos contained herein provided by National Trust for Scotland
Written by Jessica Voigts