Third time lucky! New site could end seven-year wait and deliver Olympic standard bouldering wall to Inverness

Proposed by The Ledge charity, the proposal would deliver a change of use of the current Harvey’s Furniture building on Telford Street.

Chief executive Duncan McCallum described the location as the charity’s “dream site”.

The Ledge has now formally had its planning application validated with hopes that this is “third time lucky”.

If approved, a cafe and shop would also be constructed as part of the climbing centre.

Mr McCallum said: “The response has been extraordinary. There is obviously a bit of pent up demand for something like this.

“It is a really good location. If we had to pick a dream site, with the fact it has got fantastic parking, it is almost on the A82 route out of town towards the north, this could be it.

“It also serves to help us deliver our social programme.”

Journey began in 2015

The Ledge first began exploring potential sites for the climbing centre back in 2015.

The creation of the centre was previously estimated to cost £3 million and is hoped to attract upwards of 50,000 visitors each year.

Two previous potential locations fell through for different reasons.

The first at Inverness Marina was shelved before a previous application on Lotland Street was rejected due to health and safety grounds on its close proximity to a petrol distribution centre.

However, Mr McCallum feels as if this could finally be the end of the near seven-year journey.

He added: “We first started looking quite seriously back in 2015.

“It was obvious then that the local facilities were being overwhelmed by the number of climbers and they were quite old.

“Even back then, it was fairly obvious that the city needed, as it was growing, a more modern facility. One that could adapt and change as the city grew and the demands of modern climbing grew.

“Then of course the Olympics happened and climbing became an Olympic sport in 2020 and will be again in Paris in 2024.

“With the new building we will be able to build an Olympic standard bouldering wall.

“There isn’t one linked to Mountaineering Scotland yet so we will definitely be working with elite coaches and route setters and all the elite teams.

“The other great advantage is that with the re-shifting of the emphasis of the building a bit more towards bouldering is that it has very few barriers to entry.

“It is brilliant for kids. It is brilliant for people who have never climbed before.”

“So we are going to have a mix of both.

“As it fits into a national plan, the emphasis for us will be on the elite bouldering side as well as community access to the facilities for training, engagement, mental health, welfare and disabled sport.”

‘Hopefully it is third time lucky’

Mr McCallum added: “Three months ago this one came onto our radar and we have been working with the owners probably since the middle of September.

“It has gone pretty quickly.

“The building is great. It is the right sort of size and it has got the right sort of infrastructure.

“We really have been very lucky to find this.

“First and foremost I think we are just relieved we have finally got something we can absolutely work with and deliver and we are looking forward to doing that.”