An unloved visitor centre on Scotland’s 10th highest mountain has been removed and replaced with facilities described as ‘more in keeping with the mountain landscape’.
The National Trust for Scotland has also moved the car park at Ben Lawers to a less visible site in woodland.
The NTS, which owns the estate including the 1,214m (3,983ft) Perthshire munro, said the site has been reinstated to moorland. New unmanned outdoor interpretation has also been created to tell the stories of the national nature reserve.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“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.”
New paths have also been created from the car park to the low- and high-level walks on the reserve. A self-guiding booklet to the nature trail on the lower slopes of Beinn Ghlas has also been updated and can be bought on the site from a dispenser.
The conservation at Ben Lawers also includes 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 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.