Knoydart community owns Britain's remotest mainland pub

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Jean-Pierre RobinetImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Former owner Jean-Pierre Robinet spent 10 years as Britain's remotest mainland publican

A community in Lochaber has succeeded in its bid to buy Britain's remotest mainland pub in a landmark deal.

Residents of the Knoydart Peninsula in Lochaber are now the owners of The Old Forge in Inverie.

The only way of reaching the village - and its pub - is by walking 18 miles (29km) or making a seven-mile (11km) sea crossing.

The pub's Belgian owner Jean-Pierre Robinet put the pub on the market last year, asking for offers over £425,000.

He had run the pub - which has the Guinness World Record for the remotest mainland pub in Britain - for 10 years.

The small community of just over 100 people held a consultation on a community buyout, with 70 taking part. Almost all of them backed the idea, and The Old Forge Community Benefit Society (CBS) was set up.

Locals raised more than £320,000 through a community share offer and crowdfunder, and received financial support from Scottish Land Fund and Community Ownership Fund to secure enough capital to purchase the building and undertake essential renovations.

Map

Under the community ownership model, profits will be reinvested back into business, not shareholders, and to projects that deliver wider community benefit.

Stephanie Harris, secretary of the CBS, said: "We are ecstatic that after so many months of hard work we have been successful in securing the pub for the community.

"The Old Forge plays such an important role in Knoydart's social culture and economic sustainability, and with the business now in the community's hands we can steer it forward in a way that will work for the needs of the locals and the thousands of visitors who come every year."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The only way of reaching Inverie - and its pub - is by walking 18 miles or making a seven-mile sea crossing

The Knoydart community has a track record of successful community ownership, having secured 17,500 acres of the Knoydart Estate in 1999 as one of the first community buyouts in Scotland. Knoydart's coast and mountains have been described as mainland Britain's last wilderness.

The committee is now preparing to relaunch the pub in a few weeks' time.

Ms Harris said: "We haven't been able to access the building up to this point except for when our building inspectors were permitted entry for valuation purposes.

"The inspection identified a number of essential works to make the building safe and fit-for-purpose, so we plan to open on a drinks-only basis for the first few months until we can renovate the kitchen."

She said it was hoped the pub could reopen on Easter weekend "all going well".

"We're in the process of hiring staff and already have a number of local residents lined up which is great, and means we are achieving one of our goals to provide new local employment," she added.

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