The first granite signs marking the entrances to the Cairngorms National Park are scheduled to be in place by the spring of next year, with the granite sourced within the Park.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board, which met in Edzell on Friday (9 September) has approved the £1.3 million project which is set to include associated landscaping, upgrading of lay-bys and interpretation facilities.
High quality granite signs to mark the entrances to the Cairngorms National Park were agreed in principle by the board in July 2004 but further development work on the Park brand, designs and the precise location has been undertaken since that time.
The point of entry signage project is being split into two phases with phase one involving 21 sites around the Park on non-trunk roads and long distance routes and phase two – which involves 4 sites at trunk roads – will eventually conclude the project in the summer of 2007. Last week, the Park board approved expenditure of £328,000 over two years for phase one of the project which covers 21 sites and the upgrade of two lay-bys.
Phase two – which involves the installation of four large granite markers, the upgrade of three trunk road lay-bys and the provision of visitor information – will cost a further £800,000. The funding contributions for this element have still to be finalised but at Friday’s meeting the CNPA board agreed in principle to commit up to £500,000 towards the second phase.
The installation of 25 granite markers ranging in size from five metres at locations such as Drumochter to small boulders on minor roads will cost in the region of £650,000. Upgrading lay-bys at Drumochter, Kinloch Laggan, Advie, Grantown and Dinnet will cost approximately £560,000 and interpretation facilities at Drumochter, Laggan and Dinnet are expected to cost £100,000.
Funding to the value of £194,000 has already been secured from Europe, the enterprise companies and Moray Council and discussions are underway with the Scottish Executive in relation to the upgrade of three lay-bys on trunk roads in the Park. It is hoped that a partnership initiative with the Scottish Executive in relation to this element of the project will result in further savings.
The smaller markers will feature only the Cairngorms brand and the rear of the signs will be left as quarried stone to give a more natural appearance. The larger signs will feature the brand image and the words ‘Cairngorms National Park’ in both English and Gaelic.
Speaking at the meeting, Senior Visitor Services Officer, Pete Crane explained: “The case for high quality entry point signage with associated interpretation and landscaping cannot be stressed highly enough. We want people to know that they have arrived in a very special place and we know already that visitors’ experience of an area is strongly influenced by their first impression. By providing interpretation and orientation for visitors, we hope to encourage them to explore the Park further and return again. An estimated 45,000 people pass the road entry points on a daily basis. While £1.3 million is clearly a lot of money it is the extra spend of five per cent of our visitors staying one extra day in any one year.”
Speaking after the meeting Andrew Thin commented: “This project is a major piece of work for the Park Authority and one which will have a lasting impact.”
To access this board paper in full go to the Park Authority page.