Tuesday, February 7 2017
Just over two years after the unveiling of the Tom Weir statue at Balmaha Bay a staggering 200,000 people have now visited the site to pay homage to Scotland’s most popular mountain man. Tom Weir is credited with introducing several generations to Scotland’s great outdoors, and the wonders of Loch Lomond in particular, through his prolific writings and numerous TV and radio broadcasts over a 50-year period.
At a special ceremony to mark the occasion Cllr Graham Lambie presented the 200,000th visitor Emma Hamilton from Peebles with a DVD featuring the TV series On Weir’s Way, fronted by David Hayman. Emma also received a gift voucher for dinner, bed and breakfast for two at the Oak Tree Inn overlooking the site by proprietor Sandy Fraser who also played an important role in transforming the site which now houses the statue and is known as Tom Weir’s Rest.
The Tom Weir Memorial Fund and the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs worked jointly to raise almost £150,000 to transform the former run down picnic site at Balmaha Bay which is now the popular home of Tom Weir’s statue and the recently created Tom and Rhona’s Mountain Garden.
Commenting on the success of the site Cllr Lambie said: “I am pleased Stirling Council was able to lease the site at Balmaha to the Friends and provide small grants from our community grant scheme for such a worthwhile project. I am impressed with what has been achieved here with the creation of a very popular and quality heritage visitor attraction which is a fitting tribute to Tom Weir in a stunning lochside location.”
James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said: “We are delighted with the success of the site which has far exceeded our expectations and we are grateful for the support we have received from Tom’s widow Rhona, Stirling Council, the National Park Authority, Heritage Lottery Fund, Sandy Fraser and the many thousands of ordinary people who responded to the public appeal for funds to help deliver this project.”
He added: “It is very encouraging following the installation of donation posts last year that thousands of pounds in donations from visitors have been raised to assist with the hefty annual insurance for the statue and the ongoing maintenance of the site by our local contractor, Alexander Fraser and Sons.”
Susan Taylor, Administrator for the Tom Weir Memorial Fund added: “We have come a long way since it was first mooted there should be a statue to honour Tom’s contribution to enthusing people about Scotland’s great outdoors and I am delighted the statue and the associated mountain garden and story boards at Balmaha are proving to be so popular with people from all walks of life. I am also delighted that the Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland initiative helped engage hundreds of schoolchildren around the loch in the production of an attractive booklet and supporting exhibition.
“This would not have been possible without a hard working group of volunteers and the considerable help of many others, including the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, who stepped in to handle grant funding bids and coordinate the delivery of the project.”