VisitScotland gave the centre, which is located at the power station on the banks of Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute, the highest scores for hospitality and friendliness – elevating the centre to the top 2% of their quality assurance scheme for the first time.
Sarah Cameron, Cruachan Visitor Centre Manager said:
“We’re thrilled to be recognised among the best of the best in Scotland. Our dedicated team always go the extra mile to make sure the experience people have here is as engaging and educational as possible.
“We have around 50,000 visitors a year, and they’re often awestruck by how this power station has been built inside a mountain. The stunning scenery and wildlife – including the pine martens, which people love to watch – makes it a very special place to visit.”
As well as the pine martens, Cruachan is also home to swallows, ospreys and golden eagles and often attracts walkers keen to take in the stunning views.
Cruachan power station was built in the 1960s deep inside the hollowed-out Ben Cruachan mountain. More than 1,000 workers, known as the Tunnel Tigers, drilled and blasted through the rock to create the cavernous power station.
Visitors can take guided tours inside the subterranean world of the power station where they can see the machine hall and learn about its history and the feat of engineering required to build it.
The visitor centre’s interactive exhibitions and displays help bring history to life and explain how electricity is generated. There is also a café, gift shop and picnic area.
As Scotland’s national tourism organisation, VisitScotland’s quality assurance scheme helps businesses develop their standards to the highest possible level. It uses benchmarking and ‘secret shopper’ visits to assess sites.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, said:
“Our scheme is about much more than just a star rating – it is about the entire visitor experience and investing in the business to make it as economically sustainable, and profitable, as it can be.”
Drax has introduced free guided tours at the Hollow Mountain for schools and higher education institutions during term time as part of its commitment to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers.
The company acquired Cruachan power station at the end of 2018, as part of its acquisition of a portfolio of flexible, renewable and low-carbon generating assets. Drax renovated the visitor centre and reopened it in February.
The visitor centre is open from 9.15am to 3.45pm in winter and 9.15am to 4.45pm in summer, Monday to Friday. The Hollow Mountain café uses produce grown at the centre’s own vegetable garden in its soups, sandwiches and salads.
To find out more about visiting Cruachan, go to https://www.visitcruachan.co.uk/.
TOP IMAGE: The Hollow Mountain visitor centre at the Cruachan pumped storage hydro power station.
- Drax Group completed the acquisition of a portfolio of renewable, low-carbon and flexible power stations, in strategic locations across the country – from Scotland to the South East coast – on 31st December 2018.
- Cruachan Power Station is located on the shores of Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It is one of only four pumped hydro storage stations in the UK and has a capacity of 440 MW – enough to power more than 90,000 homes.
- Cruachan was the first reversible pumped storage hydro system on this scale to be built in the world
- The turbine hall is located 1 km within the hollowed-out mountain of Ben Cruachan and houses four generators.
- The plant has four primary modes of operation and can deliver a range of balancing and ancillary services.
Drax Group’s ambition is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. Its 2,600-strong employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.
Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Having converted two thirds of Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.
Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan. It also owns and operates four gas power stations in England.
For more information visit www.drax.com/uk
Drax owns two B2B energy supply businesses:
- Haven Power, based in Ipswich, supplies electricity and energy services to large Industrial and Commercial sector businesses.
- Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, provides electricity, energy services and gas to small and medium sized (SME) businesses.
Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US South which manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. These pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.
For more information visit www.drax.com/uk