Developing marine tourism opportunities on upper Loch Linnhe
Developing marine tourism on Loch Linnhe, Fort William is an exciting and vital concept which offers significant social and economic benefits to the wider community around the shore of this large sea loch between Corpach, Caol, Inverlochy and Fort William waterfront all the way down to Lochaber Yacht Club on Achintore Road.
It is hard to believe that despite Fort William being recognised as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, and the largest visitor destination on the entire Scottish west coast, it DOES NOT have an all-weather, fully serviced yacht marina for locals and visitors to this amazing Highland town.
Loch Linnhe is a huge sea loch with a very long and scenic shoreline from the A82 at Corran to the A861 on the west side of the loch all the way to Ardgour – some 40 miles of scenery of water and Highland mountains.
The Thomas Telford Corpach Marina will be the only all-weather, fully featured yacht and small boat marina north of Oban, and when opened it is expected to become a bustling centre for launching of small boats and dinghies down its sheltered concrete slipway which lies inside the shelter of the marina’s breakwaters.
The marina will provide up to 40 berths for yachts and provide 3m of water at LWMS. Its large floating breakwater is 4m wide and provides safe access to the pontoon fingers.
Thomas Telford Corpach Marina project has the unanimous political and financial support from The Highland Council, most or all elected Highland Councillors, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Canals, operators of the Caledonian Canal; the Scottish Government Cross Party Marine Tourism Group; UHI West Highland College, Lochaber High School, Corpach Boatbuilding Company, Snowgoose Activities, Corpach, Caol Primary School, Lochaber Disability Access Panel, Lochaber Small Boat Owners Association, VisitScotland, Lochaber Yacht Club, MacKenzie Marine Services, Corpach, Linnhe Holidays, Loch Eil, Tradewinds, Corpach, Crannog Concept, Fort William, Fort William Chamber of Commerce and the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Cruise Liner berthing pontoon at Fort William
Loch Linnhe welcomes Cruise Liners whose passengers can get ashore at the West End Car Park in Fort William from Loch Linnhe using the pontoons. There are literally hundreds of things to do in the Fort William and greater Lochaber area. When Corpach Marina opens for business, visiting passengers could enjoy a walk or a bike ride around the shoreline to Corpach and be picked up by a tender from the marina. In adverse weather conditions, Corpach Marina’s floating breakwater could provide alternative landing facilities for cruise ship tenders.
Fort William Town Pier
With community support and involvement a renovated and enlarged Fort William Town Pier would attract larger vessels to visit Fort William and berth alongside a substantial pier structure in 5m of water at LWMS. At the present time the paddle steamer Waverley no longer calls into Fort William due to the condition of Fort William’s pier.
The idea to develop Fort William Town Pier comes from discussions with locals who see an opportunity to create permanent, long-term, multi-functional facilities on a new pier including the potential to create a wider promenade along the shoreline of Loch Linnhe. Having a functional Town Pier would be complementary to the yacht and small boat marina at Corpach, which would essentially create a joined-up plan to expand marine tourism on Loch Linnhe from the West End car park to Corpach.
Watersports recreational development
Corpach Marina will attract watersports activities by provided new slipway access to the water. Kayakers, jet-skiers, RIBs and other small craft will be able to for the first time launch into Loch Linnhe and have full recreational facilities on a day basis. The waters between the marina and the shore will create a very sheltered area of water to help beginners get their first experience in a canoe or small boat. Slipway access to the water opens up several square miles of open sea lochs between Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
There is no established yacht hire holiday business on Loch Linnhe but it is concievable that a yacht charter business or a flotilla type sailing holiday could be established and marine tourism can be developed for sailing or motoring between Fort William and Oban.
Commercial marine activities
Corpach Marina will offer berthing for small commerical vessels – like those who provide short day trips for sea wildlife tours and day fishing trips. The Coastguard has an office at Corpach but no easy access to the sea. With the development of watersports recreational activities, the Coastguard or the RNLI may consider stationing a rescue boat on the loch.
If you have any views on how marine tourism could be developed with the involvement of all communities along the shoreline of Loch Linnhe please drop us an email.