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'Aire' B and B for motorhomers takes shape at Kingussie

By Tom Ramage

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Motorhome travellers will from today be offered a warm welcome at Badenoch’s first motorhome aire.

The site has been created following the easing of restrictions on such accommodation sites – popular on the continent – to cope with the staycation boom.

Croila Croft Kingussie Motorhome Aire has been created by Kingussie railway station.

Owner Ruaridh Ormiston said: “Things are progressing well here in Kingussie, and we plan to open our licensed certified location Motorcaravanners Club site and our Motorhome Aire under the Covid-19 exemptions for 2021.

Work in progress: the land is made ready at the new motorhome site by Highland Horse Fun
Work in progress: the land is made ready at the new motorhome site by Highland Horse Fun

“We have both grass and hard-standing pitches and motorhome services on site as well as good and safe access.”

An “aire”, or in Gaelic àirigh, is a shieling – traditionally a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild or lonely places in the hills and mountains of Scotland and northern England.

Now shelter is being offered for the modern-day staycationers who have been deterred from travelling abroad for their breaks by all the complications wrought by the pandemic and its system of traffic lights and quarantines.

Highland Council became the first UK local authority earlier this month to temporarily relax licensing regulations to enable landowners with suitable sites to provide continental style motorhome stopovers.

The authority says it is adapting to the significant increase of motorhome ownership in the UK and the demand for self-contained holidays by creating an opportunity to offer small, simple and low-cost short stopovers for motorhome visitors.

Councillor Gordon Adam, chairman of the council’s tourism committee, said: “The demand for traveling via motorhome has been intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic. To mitigate some of the problems experienced last summer, temporary ‘àirigh’ will offer a safe, off-road location for motorhomes to park for the night and help alleviate parking problems experienced in rural areas.

Motorhome from home at Kingussie as the aire takes shape this week
Motorhome from home at Kingussie as the aire takes shape this week

“Aires are used all over Europe and àirigh could offer an opportunity to assist the economic recovery in Highland.

“We encourage any community groups or landowners that may have suitable land to submit a short inquiry form to the council’s planning team.”

Mr Ormiston has said that no bookings are necessary for now until the businesses has a booking system up and running.

He said: “We have plenty room – so visitors just need to show up or phone ahead.”

They are planning to offer a communal fire pit as well as facilities to use disposable barbecues on each pitch.

“That’s something not normally allowed in the national park,” Mr Ormison added, “but it’s clearly something that will be beneficial to tourers.”

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