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More cash and work required


By Staff Reporter

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A GROUP of volunteers hope to continue reviving a once-popular natural beauty spot with support from the community.

Registered charity, Friends of Blairs Loch (FBL), have already spent a total of more than 700 hours working in and around the boat house and buildings along the foreshore since they started last year.

However, treasurer Brian Higgs has confirmed seven regulars who help out on a weekly basis, and a further eight who join them when work commitments allow, need financial investment to complete the project.

He said: "FBL are doing as much building renovation as possible with the resources we have available. The renovation and development of the buildings is totally dependent upon grant funding and will begin as soon as we have raised sufficient funds.

"We have a long way to go - we need about £30,000 to sort out the boat house and bothy building, then another £50,000 to redevelop the stable into a classroom for primary schools.

"However, the support from the folk of Forres and surrounding area has been tremendous and we’ll get there!"

Loch of Blairs, around two miles south of Forres was completely overgrown and almost inaccessible. FBL plan to open it as a community trout fishery, including two boats with easy access fitments for people with mobility constraints. Income derived from fishery tickets will be used for stocking the loch and any surplus will be reinvested into the amenity.

The longer-term aim is to use the revenue to improve the footpath network and connect it to other well-established routes in the area.

The refurbished formally-derelict boat house, adjacent bothy and stable buildings will be converted into field study classrooms.

So far, the main work party activities have included: clearing a Rhododendron infestation from around the buildings and shoreline; creating new link path; maintaining existing footpaths; removing gorse, low branches and trip hazards; removing internal wooden cladding from the buildings to allow inspection of the main structure and installing insulation; designing and constructing a new water-level platform in the boat house; removing flaking paint from outside the buildings; painting new wooden sidings; removing an internal wall in the cart room ahead of renovation work; installation of a squirrel box.

Work in progress includes building a bridge across from the area beside the boat channel to a small island to allow installation of a bird hide and tackling excessive aquatic weed growth.

Brian said: "Our fundraising is a rollercoaster! We have had fantastic support from a number of local people who have made very generous donations but we are trying to get bigger funding for the main renovation and development."

Make a donation or get in touch via the Friends of Blair Loch Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FoBL2019/

Mike Holder, Mike Sutherland, Jim McKay, Brian Higgs and Alan Frost after completing the boat platform.
Mike Holder, Mike Sutherland, Jim McKay, Brian Higgs and Alan Frost after completing the boat platform.


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