Drumardoch Estate in Callander teamed up with Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park to address the persistent issue of vandalism and anti-social behavior at Loch Lubnaig which had seen the site become an eyesore. The result is The Cabin which is not only a successful business providing local employment, but the transformation has created a destination providing a fitting gateway to the park used year around by commuters, international travelers, minibus tours, day trippers, swimmers, canoeists, families and others. Drumardoch Estate is owned by Tony Cameron and managed by Neil Cameron. The Cabin is managed by Lucy and Neil Cameron.
The primary challenge was to change visitor behavior, to reduce negative visitor impacts on the environment and to provide facilities for increased visitors to enjoy the area. This was done by constructing and managing high quality toilets, picnic area and parking supported by a kiosk providing quality home-made food and beverages and making it viable to maintain a staff team on site.
The secondary challenge was lack of any utilities to the area. The site has been established with off-grid options running off a combined solar roof array with diesel generator back-up. Water is sourced from a borehole, communications are via satellite internet and the toilet facilities utilise a septic tank system.
The outcome for the site has been met and a family friendly, aesthetically pleasing facility allowing safe use for visitors and access to the loch has been created. The Cabin employs local staff all year round, and the site now provides the fitting first impression hoped for anyone entering into the national park.
The success and popularity of the site has seen significant visitor numbers using the site. Demand outstrips the space available in the summer and traffic management across the National Park can be challenging. Despite the A84 being designated a clearway dangerous roadside parking remains an issue. Neil hopes to extend the carpark into an adjacent area to allow more people to make use of the site and the hope is that in the longer term improved public transport options will also form part of the solution.
Drumardoch Estate could not allow the continued deterioration of this part of Loch Lubnaig and as the landowners, they felt the responsibility to address the problem, from the ground up. Inappropriate visitor behavior had left trees vandalized and the loch and shore polluted by rubbish and waste. Overcoming the absence of utilities although a challenge has resulted in promoting the success of an off-grid solution. The benefits are ten-fold with the establishment of The Cabin, not least the permanent removal of the growing hazards that the mis-use of the area was creating thereby resulting in the immediate improvement to the environment. This being replaced by a clean and safe site which manages rubbish, toilets, parking and visitor activities. The Cabin has also used fully compostable coffee cups and packaging from the day it opened.
The establishment of a successful business venture in the kiosk makes the site sustainable long term and recognition of the importance of the kiosk in maintaining the condition of the site is a key factor to be understood in this story. Neil has identified that there are further enhancements to the site which could be added including measures to scale back the use of diesel and increased parking capacity. However, The Cabin offers a case study in what can be achieved with willpower and imagination and with partnership between the public and private sectors.