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Friends of Blairs Loch complete new stable and boot room for use of the community


By Garry McCartney

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The new Stable and Boot room is alongside the refurbished Boathouse and Bothy.
The new Stable and Boot room is alongside the refurbished Boathouse and Bothy.

VOLUNTEERS are inviting the community to visit new buildings they have built at a local beauty spot on Saturday, November 6 from 10am-3pm.

Friends of Blairs Loch (FoBL) are celebrating the opening of the new stable and boot room at Blairs Loch on the Altyre Estate south of Forres - public facilities aimed at groups interested in the beautiful wildlife of the area.

The open plan classroom/meeting room and an adjacent boot/toilet room have been constructed beside a previously refurbished boathouse and bothy.

The Stable Room was built on the same footprint of the derelict building.
The Stable Room was built on the same footprint of the derelict building.

FoBL treasurer, Brian Higgs, confirmed the project cost around £110,000 and has been supported with funds from the Beatrice Partnership, the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation, the Berry Burn Community Fund and the Adam Family Foundation.

He said: "This is a wonderful climax to what has been a tough project due to all the pressures brought about by the pandemic. It's great to see the facility finally finished and we look forward to welcoming our first visitors."

The FoBL charity has around 20 volunteers, with 10 regularly working two or three mornings each week and the rest whenever when they can.

The idea for the entire revamp came out of a conversation at Finderne Community Council about options for establishing a community project. When it became clear that the scheme was so big and needed a charity to take on fundraising etc, Friends of Blairs Loch was established in December, 2018.

Work started with the opening up of access to the loch by dredging its boat channel. The Bothy refurbishment was completed in 2019 and volunteers started building the new Stable room in March this year.

The facility will be available for use, free of charge, by Moray schools for field study and outdoor-based activities. It can also be hired by other special interest groups.

The Stable Room will sit 30 at tables or up to 45 in a theatre layout.
The Stable Room will sit 30 at tables or up to 45 in a theatre layout.

The Bothy can accommodate groups of up to 18 and the new stable room has table space for 30.

With disabled access and toilet facilities, FoBL hope the venue will used by a wide range of groups.

Sitting alongside the loch, with access to the extensive path network, picnic areas and bird hides, the buildings are an ideal base for a host of different uses.

"A number of primary schools from both the Forres and Elgin Associated Schools Group area have indicated they wish to use the facility," said Brian. "We have also had interest from several local environmental groups, an amateur art group, a scout group, an Alzheimer’s support group and potentially the Moray Platinum Jubilee Award group."

It is thought that fishing ceased on the loch around 1995. The land, water and buildings are owned by Altyre Estate who granted Friends of Blairs Loch a 20-year lease from 2018.

FoBL chairman, Carlo Miele, confirmed the support given by Altyre Estate, and the funding organisations, allowed the charity to create something special for Moray.

He said: "The loch has already become a popular destination as we have opened up accessibility but the new buildings are a massive step forward. This really is now an amenity for the whole community."

The Friends' guests at the opening on Friday, November 5 will include representatives of the funders, private donors and local contracting companies that have supported the build.

"The ribbon cutting will be done by Lady Louisa Gordon Cumming," said Brian. "We are also opening the facility for a public drop-in on Saturday to allow the local community to see what has been created."

For more information email fofblairsloch@gmail.com or telephone 07513462355.

The picturesque exits!
The picturesque exits!


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