Bungee Jumping in the Pass of Killiecrankie

Logo: National Trust for Scotland
Logo: Highland Fling Bungee

The National Trust for Scotland was approached 5 years ago by a company, Highland Fling Bungee, with a proposal to start the UK’s first permanent bungee jumping site. The plan involved fixing a jumping platform below the Garry Road Bridge which crosses the south end of the Pass of Killiecrankie; a steep sided river gorge in Highland Perthshire. Also to have a reception / check in area within the Trusts existing Visitor Centre a mile away at the north end of the Pass.

The Trust considered the proposal very carefully and based its conclusions upon the Trusts Statement of significance for the property which is summarised as follows; ‘The properties prime conservation significance lies in its natural heritage (SSSI / landscape) and cultural heritage (links with the 1698 Battle). The property also plays a significant role in the local tourism industry’.

The Trust concluded that there would be no or negligible impact upon the properties primary conservation assets and while there would be a location specific impact, it would be more productive   to engage with the operator, to actively find ways to reduce the impact of and be involved in finding solutions to any problems that the proposal may bring. It was also hoped that this approach would create an example of how the growing outdoor activity sector, can take conservation and the environment into consideration.

Jumping platform below the bridge  (National Trust for Scotland)
Jumping platform below the bridge (National Trust for Scotland)

Following a detailed conservation and visitor impact survey the following specific conclusions were reached

· Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): The core bungee jumping activity would have no impact upon the Killiecrankie SSSI, the jumping and spectator areas being outside its boundary.

·         Cultural heritage: All sites associated with the Battle of Killiecrankie would be unaffected by the proposals.

·         Wildlife: The spectator area under the bridge being of relatively low wildlife value. This area's main wildlife importance being within the river and the trees and apart from some minor branch pruning these would be unaffected. There may be disturbance by increased numbers of people and sound, but since the area is already heavily used, with an adjacent railway line and roads this was likely to be negligible.

·         Visitor Centre: While there would have to be some changes to the visitor experience within the confines of the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre to accommodate a jumpers reception area, this was deemed acceptable due to potential of commercial activity income within the trust shop and cafe franchise.

·         Jumpers and spectators: It would provide opportunities to engage with and get a conservation message across a new audience. Also because of the rent payable to the trust, a percentage of every jump would come to the trust supporting the conservation and visitor access of the Pass.

·         Economy: This proposal would not only provide a rental income to the trust, but had potential to bring substantial benefits to the local economy.

Killiecrankie bungee jumper (Highland Fling Bungee)
Killiecrankie bungee jumper (Highland Fling Bungee)

The jump at 132ft is small by international standards but more than enough for most! Highland Fling Bungee started jumping in May 2011 and they will reach the 20,000 jump early this summer. From the National Trust for Scotland point of view it has been a great success; it hasn’t affected the conservation of the Pass and it’s nice to hear the wood warblers still singing away in the trees closest to the jump, quite unconcerned. It has given a whole new range of people a taste of the natural beauty of the Pass and an awareness of the Trust, it has provided an income stream to help with our conservation work and makes a significant contribution to the local economy.

Any potential jumpers out there?!

Ben Notley

NTS Property Manager, North Perthshire Properties

Updated information July 2015:

We are now also working in partnership with another activity provide ‘Nae Limits’  on a new product called ‘Wee Limits adventure academy’ basically an outdoor adventure / forest play and leadership skills combined into a Wilderness day aimed at 5-12 year olds. A large part of the partnership is ensuring that the activities are done in a way that is sustainable to the environment. The Trust carries out wildlife surveys and monitors the areas being used, this allows the activities to be moved if necessary, for example to avoid a nesting bird or reduce vegetation damage. The knowledge gained is then not only built in as part of the package for the kids, but is very much part of the learning and understanding process for the ‘Nae Limits’ staff on site. Many outdoor activity providers staff, while highly skilled in their field and very keen on the great outdoors in general, can have limited understanding of the impact of their activities, this partnership aims to address this and provide an example of best working practice.

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in affiliation with NAEE UK - the National Association for Environmental Education (UK) on 19 May 2014