Designing and building a yacht marina isn’t just about providing services for yacht and boat owners. It’s really about reasons to visit Fort William, providing outdoor facilities for local people of all ages and abilities, and most importantly, creating new jobs and generating new commercial opportunities because yacht owners generally have disposable income to spend in the local community. A marina also offers completely new learning opportunities for local schools.
Scottish Canals, who operate the Caledonian Canal will be a major partner in the operating of the marina and its facilities. Overseas yachts who choose to visit the West Coast of Scotland will welcome the comprehensive services the marina will offer, and Scottish Canals can offer marina facilities at both ends of this famous inland waterway.
The marina will be the only slipway in the upper Loch Linnhe area to provide access to the water for the general public, educational groups and adventure organisations. At the present time, there is no public slipway access to Loch Linnhe, but Corpach Marina will have a sheltered concrete slipway and launching facilities for anyone to make full use of. The slipway will also provide an easy and safe way for canoes and kayaks to gain access to the water and first experiences on the water within the sheltered shoreline protected by the marina’s breakwater.
In December 2016, “Sailing Tourism in Scotland” a report for The Crown Estate, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Canals, identified that facilities in Loch Linnhe are important when linked to transiting through the Caledonian Canal and as a result there are visitor opportunities at Fort William, with good access to its town centre and links to the West Highland Line; and a visitor holding facility at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal would be beneficial.
The Marine Tourism Strategy for Scotland “Awakening the Giant”, supported by key partners including Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Crown Estate, Scottish Canals, Visit Scotland and Scottish Development International, has identified a new marina at Corpach as one of the top 10 infrastructure priorities at a national level.
The project will offer opportunities for employment, training and volunteering as it moves towards completion. Until recently, Caol was within the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland (per the Scottish Index of Multiple deprivation) and still suffers from relatively high unemployment and limited opportunities for job creation. The experience already discovered by both Mallaig and Lochaline marinas was that the direct spend from visiting yachts was making a material positive impact on local businesses and we would hope to be able to replicate this in the Caol and Corpach areas. Provision of marina facilities is also highlighted as a priority in the Lochaber Community Development Plan, particularly recognising the significant impact they have on small, fragile communities.
Fort William is about to go through a major development by Liberty British Aluminium who will be building a new rolling mill for the production of sheet aluminium from 22 tonne ingots. They also plan to build and operate an alloy car wheel plant supplying british car manufacturers in the south by train. These industrial developments will bring people to Fort William and people need things to do and local amenities. An operating marina will surely add to the marketing mix which will attract newcomers to our Highland town.
Local amenities at Corpach
Corpach is a village community along the Road to the Isles A831 and is an integral part of the greater Fort William community including Caol and Inverlochy villages along the shoreline towards Fort William town Pier.
Corpach has a mainline railway station 100m from the marina !
A Co-Operative supermarket, a popular pub – Tradewinds and the long established Corpach Hotel all offer marina users fantastic shopping, rooms and food just 5 minutes from the pontoons. There are also lots of quality B&Bs to offer accommodation if required. There is a regular bus service into Fort William and local taxis are also available. Corpach is also home to Kilmallie Community Centre which is within 2 minutes of the marina.
Other pubs, restaurants, and local services are scattered around the Loch Linnhe shoreline towards Fort William. The economic impact from an operating yacht marina on the Corpach community and the general Fort William shoreline community is self evident.
Corpach Boat Building Company already operate very close-by and can provide a full range of marine services from electrics to mechanical. Winter storage is also to hand. MacKenzie Marine provide outboard servicing and GRP repairs – its amazing to have all this expertise already working in the area. Up until now, Fort William and Loch Linnhe has never been seen as a location for yacht owners to keep their boats over the winter months, and to make full use of the established marine services. There is potential huge economic benefit to the area once winter storage of yachts is developed. The marina will benefit directly from marine services.
Fort William benefits too
Fort William from Corpach Marina is a short journey by car, bus, train, on foot or by bicycle.
Marina users will spend disposable income in the Fort William town area too. This famous Highland town has lots of pubs, restaurants and shops to choose from and the West Highland Museum is also a very popular must-do visit – packed with the ancient history and artifacts from the Jacobite days.
West Highland College UHI operates in Fort William and is looking to develop its marine activities course on Loch Linnhe and so Corpach Marina will benefit lots of young people learning how to make a living in the Outdoor Activities leisure market. It is possible that the sailing school facilities at Lochaber Yacht Club will also benefit from the general holiday activities market and indeed provide more awareness for local people living here, and to get involved in watersports.
26 September 2016
West Highland College UHI Support for the Thomas Telford Corpach Marina Development
I am writing on behalf of West Highland College UHI in support of the development of the Thomas Telford Marina in Corpach, Fort William.
West Highland College UHI is an academic partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands, and – operating across our 10 college centres in Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross – is a key provider of skills and qualifications relevant to the local economies and businesses of the West Highlands. The College, amongst its wide portfolio of courses, has a nationally recognised School of Adventure Studies, which provides specialist qualifications for outdoor and adventure sports and tourism, from secondary school to postgraduate levels. All qualifications include an element of water sports and tourism, but we also provide a specialist BA hons degree qualification in Marine and Coastal Tourism. This degree is currently unique in the UK, and was designed specifically in line with the Scottish Government’s new strategy for marine Tourism as published in ‘Awakening the Giant’ in 2014, providing skilled graduates to assist with the development of sustainable marine and coastal tourism in the Highlands and Islands.
The College is therefore in a unique position to support the Thomas Telford Marina development, both in terms of providing skilled future employees at graduate level, but also in utilising the Marina as a local partner for student work placements and learning, as well as a potential host for student activities around the Caledonian Canal and upper Loch Linnhe. Our students already are working with emerging cruise ship tourism developments elsewhere in Fort William, and the local marina development would open doors to further partnership working in local marine tourism development which would benefit both the marina in building local talent and capacity for skilled employment, as well as benefitting the immediate work-based learning experience of our degree students.
The College fully supports this marina development as part of the wider outdoor tourism strategy for Fort William, Lochaber and the West Highlands, and would highlight the potentially very positive economic impact this development could have on the local communities it serves.
The College also recognises the positive impact this Marina would have on opening up the Lochaber end of the Caledonian Canal for wider access and use by more people, local and visitors alike, including facilitating enhanced access to the significant natural and built environment and heritage there. Whilst the Inner Moray Firth end of the Caledonian Canal has had significant previous investment, the proposed Thomas Telford Marina in Corpach could leverage further public and private investment in Lochaber, and effectively connect Tourism in the West Highlands and the Inner Moray Firth along the Caledonian Canal.
Please feel free to use this letter of support in evidence of our support as local stakeholders for your development.
I wish you every success with the progress of your project,
With kind regards,
Principal & Chief Executive: Lydia Rohmer
“There is no doubt that a marina by the Corpach Canal basin would be good for the local community, good for local boat users, and good for visiting yachts.
Over the 20 years plus that we have been in business in Corpach, we have seen an increasing number of yachts visiting from Scandinavia and the continent on their way to or from the west coast. A marina would encourage more yachts to stay and visit Corpach and Fort William and use the facility for crew changes enabling visitors to join or leave a vessel in Corpach.
For a number of years we have been attending yachts in the canal who are on transit and have encountered mechanical problems. A marina would potentially increase this level of business and enable us to offer a dedicated service to leisure boat users visiting or resident in Lochaber.
Corpach Boatbuilding Company fully support the development of a marina facility in Corpach. Don Hind, Managing Director
Highlands & Islands Enterprise…
Thomas Telford Corpach Marina, The Secretary, Linda Campbell, Caol Community Centre, Glenkingie Street, Caol, Fort William, PH33 7DS
Thomas Telford Corpach Marina
John and Tina Cuthbertson are whole heartedly supportive of the project to develop much needed, longstanding marine based facilities for small boats, local and visiting yachts in this ideal location and environment;
As well as underpinning and making a practical contribution to the infrastructure of tourism in the wider Lochaber area the project will significantly:
expand and develop the tourism product locally
effectively contribute towards the expansion and development of the market sectors in terms of water and marine based adventure tourism which are inadequately provided for currently.
The location, aspect, environment and of the proposed development site are idea for the proposed scale of such a water and marine based development;
More than any other location in the local area the identified site just outside the Caledonian Canal is self-evidently more consistently sheltered in event of the prevailing SW winds – as we can confirm when looking out of our office window on a daily basis at the end of the Sea Lock at Corpach.
In terms of the landscape aspect of the site, there can be (pretty much) no location more unique or iconic. There is nowhere in the UK with a sea to sky panorama looking towards the towering cliffs of Ben Nevis
Corpach is now increasingly a hub linking a variety of adventure based routes into and out of the area:
On foot, from the long distance West Highland Way through to the north along the Great Glen Way – in the near future the way out west to Glenfinnan and Mallaig.
By paddle, the tidal waters up from Oban and Ballachullish – then through the Caledonian Canal along the Great Glen Canoe Trail to Inverness
By sail or motor boat, from the north or south of the Irish Sea linking through the Caledonian Canal along the Great Glen to Inverness – and vice versa
By Bike, south from Oban linking through to the Great Glen Cycle Trail to Inverness
The new marina facility will clearly complement and underpin the increasing use of these outdoor routes.
International, national and local transport links
The site of the Thomas Telford Corpach Marina is very well served in terms of both local and national transport links:
By rail, marina users have access of the option of travelling from London Euston through to Corpach itself (with only a change in Glasgow).
Or by overnight travel on the Caledonian Sleeper – with easy taxi travel from Fort William to Corpach which can be pre-booked.
By air – both for international, national and more regional visitors to the area are increasingly using cheap flights from local regional airports in England and Europe to Inverness, Glasgow or Edinburgh with access / links to one-way car hire, coach or rail onwards to Corpach.
By coach direct from the south of England to Fort William.
The heritage and historical significance of the immediate and surrounding locality is completely uncelebrated compared to other similar locations in other comparable geographical situations (e.g. Squamish, BC, population approx. 17,000) where outdoor adventure, heritage and history have been combined into the tourism product – both land, water and marine based.
Corpach village has a long time line dating back from before the Bronze age through to the time of the 18th Century Clearances and the forced emigration ships to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Ontario and the Carolinas – with 3000 folks a week leaving from Corpach pier – through to the opening of the canal in 1822 and the coming of the railway:
It is hoped that the marina development (and its name “Thomas Telford”) will soon provide the necessary catalyst to instigate the development of a co-existing Heritage Centre to enhance the appeal of the unique setting as a site of historical and heritage significance locally.
Conservation and environmental concerns:
It is inevitable that during the construction of the marina that there will be disturbance to flora and fauna. It is inconceivable that this will not be so in the short term.
However, the construction of the carpark area and culverting of the burn should help to clear up the increasing area of unsightly flotsam and jetsam on the north side of the Scottish Canals pier.
Otters have been seen infrequently at the mouth of the burn in the past. However, these now appear to have consistently re-located themselves to the islands further out in Corpach bay.
From a purely business perspective for the marina project as a whole, our own concerns are purely centered around the business, legal and operational relationships between the marina company and Scottish Canals on: |
In terms of our own business at Snowgoose Mountain Centre, we are clear that the marina development with enhance the development of the dinghy sailing as part of our long standing adventure tourism product.
We wish the development all the best wished for the future.
Regards & Best Wishes
John & Tina
John & Tina Cuthbertson Snowgoose Mountain Centre, Snowgoose Apartments & The Smiddy Bunkhouse, Station Road, Corpach, Fort William Highland, PH33 7JH