New Phoenix Hide rises from the ashes at Loch Leven nature reserve

06 May 2022

The new Phoenix Hide at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve (NNR) has been officially opened, rising from the ashes of the old building that was burnt down in 2021.

NatureScot chair Mike Cantlay and reserve manager Neil Mitchell were joined by the Kinross Beavers, as well as representatives from the local community and businesses, to cut the ribbon and officially open the new bird hide to the public today (Friday May 6th).

There was public outcry in February last year when the much-loved Mill Hide was completely destroyed in a fire.

A crowdfunding appeal to rebuild the hide raised almost £30,000 and the remainder has been funded by NatureScot, which manages much of the NNR.

Mr Cantlay said: “To see the new Phoenix Hide rise from the ashes has been wonderful, and it just would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of the local community, businesses and the wider public. Today we want to thank each and every one for making this day possible.

“The level of support has been truly heart-warming and demonstrates the importance of this special place for nature for the local community and beyond.

“As Scotland’s nature agency, our aim is to inspire many more people to value our natural world and I know that this beautiful new hide will play a vital role in doing that for generations to come.”

NatureScot’s Neil Mitchell, the reserve manager who oversaw the hide rebuild, said: “When the Mill Hide was destroyed last year we were all absolutely devastated. After the fire, what really came through was what a much-loved place it was for people near and far to come and connect with nature.

“We were determined to do all that we could to rebuild the hide and can’t express how grateful we are to the local community, businesses and visitors who contributed so generously to making it happen.

“The new building looks wonderful and I’m sure staff and locals alike are all looking forward to having this special place back again. If you’re visiting in the next few months, you can look out for lots of fluffy young ducklings snacking on the rich insect and plant life of the loch, mute swans raising their cygnets, while herons, kingfishers and osprey can all be seen fishing too.”  

NatureScot would like to thank the WM Grant Foundation Fund for its generous support; Loch Leven Brewery for its special edition Phoenix Beer developed to raise funds for the hide; Pizza Via for their fundraising raffle; and the collective efforts of the community through sponsored events and raffles, including £500 raised by the local Kinross Beaver group from its fundraising walk. Thanks also to the Todd & Duncan Mill for their support and assistance with the rebuild.

The new hide has been designed with a more open back to discourage any anti-social behaviour and includes a new camera to better record any incidents.

Loch Leven is NatureScot’s most visited national nature reserve. With more than 300,000 people a year visiting the site and using the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, this bird hide was one of the most visited parts of the reserve.