The Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus has reopened following a refurbishment and is ready to offer visitors the chance to explore everything the 200-year-old waterway has to offer.
The revamped centre, which is open from 9am to 6pm, 7 days a week, allows visitors to learn about the Caledonian’s rich history, grab a souvenir from a wide selection of Scottish gifts, or book a range of activities, from rafting to canyoning and canoeing, along the majestic Great Glen.
Cara Baillie, Products and Services Manager at Scottish Canals, said: “We’re delighted to open the revamped Caledonian Canal Centre. The centre is the one-stop-shop for visitors looking to make the most of a visit to the living museum that is the Caledonian Canal and we’re now even better equipped to ensure they can enjoy the incredible experiences the canal has to offer.
“Our gift shop has everything visitors tackling the Great Glen Way by boot, boat or bike need, from first aid kits, guidebooks and maps to the one true Great Glen essential – midge hoods! We also carry various bespoke Scottish Canals ranges, with unique Caledonian Canal souvenirs found nowhere else, items clad in our very own tweed and heritage prints from our archive all on offer, as well as a wide variety of locally-sourced gifts crafted by independent designers and manufacturers.
“For those looking to get their fix of adrenaline, we’ve also teamed up with two local activities providers, Active Highs and Boots & Paddles, to encourage visitors to engage more with the canal, spend more time in the area, visit other local businesses, and enjoy the wilder side of the Great Glen.
“The reopening of the centre is another step towards Scottish Canals becoming more financially sustainable. We’re committed to safeguarding the rich heritage of the 200-year-old Caledonian Canal and all profits generated by the centre will be reinvested to help ensure it continues to thrive for future generations to enjoy. Come along and see what we have to offer.”
The next phase of the centre’s revitalisation, supported by funding from SSE’s Highland Sustainable Fund, has just received planning permission and is scheduled to begin in early 2016. The expansion will see a cluster of three retail pods installed as premises for small local businesses to establish and expand their offering. The search for new businesses who wish to take advantage of the huge footfall in the village will begin in the autumn. It’s hoped the refurbished centre will help boost visitor numbers to the area, which already attracts around 250,000 tourists a year, and secure a more sustainable future for the Caledonian Canal.
The second phase of the project will also see the story of the Caledonian Canal being told through new interpretation along the area’s historic locks and the creation of a new purpose-built base for the local canal operations and maintenance teams.
Ciara Wilson, Community Funds Manager at SSE said: “SSE were delighted to award Scottish Canals a grant of £225,000 from our Highland Sustainable Development Fund. It’s fantastic to see the centre reopened and refreshed to take full advantage of the significant footfall Fort Augustus benefits from. We look forward to seeing the next phase of the redevelopment underway which has the potential to create a real and positive economic impact for the local area in the long term.”