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Doors Open Day Heads Northwards

3rd September 2012

From state-of-the-art modern buildings to ancient churches and nuclear bunkers, Saturday 1st September successfully kicked of this year's National Doors Open Days programme of events, with a wide range of buildings in Inverness throwing open their doors to visitors. And now the event is heading northwards to Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness.

Doors Open Days offers free access to landmark buildings, private homes and usually private work spaces that the public never normally get a chance to see. The Highland programme is co-ordinated by The Highland Council. Buildings in Ross-shire and Sutherland will be open on Saturday 8th September and in Caithness on 15th September.

Head to Cromarty on 8th September and you'll have the opportunity to explore behind closed doors. Six landmark buildings in the historic village are taking part including Cromarty House, an imposing Georgian mansion built in 1772; The Stables, which have been restored as an arts centre and artist studios; East Church, an historic building which has recently completed a three-year conservation programme; Hugh Miller Birthplace Cottage and Museum; Cromarty Courthouse Museum and Cromarty Lighthouse.

Cromarty Lighthouse, built by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Loui
s Stevenson, was operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board from 1842 until decommissioned in 2005. The lighthouse tower, Keepers Cottage and Old Buoy Store are now used for marine research and teaching by the University of Aberdeen. Visitors will be able to tour the building and meet staff, students and artists-in-residence.

Professor Paul Thompson of the University of Aberdeen, said: "In collaboration with Inverness Old Town Art, the University of Aberdeen have hosted two artists in residence at our Cromarty marine research base this summer. So joining the Doors Open scheme seemed a good opportunity for visitors to see our historic buildings while the artists' work was on display. With Aberdeen also hosting this year's British Science Festival, our Doors Open event has become part of a much larger programme of public events which showcases current research."

In Portmahomack, you can take a special guided tour of 16th century Ballone Castle, which has been lovingly restored by Architect Lachie stewart and his wife Annie; or visit Tarbat Discovery Centre which sits on the site of a Pictish Monastic Settlement dating from the 7th Century.

You can also explore a range of historic churches across the area, from Edderton Old Parish Church which features the Edderton Ark, a portable pulpit used in the remoter areas of the Highlands in the 19th Century to St Clements, Dingwall, which has interesting stained glass windows and sits in an historic kirkyard.

In Caithness, on 15th September you can visit a range of buildings, including Caithness Horizons, located in the refurbished Thurso Town Hall, Waterlines Visitor Centre, which tells the history of the fishing industry in Lybster or St John the Evangelists Church in Wick, built in 1868-70.

Gordon Johnson of St Johns Church, Wick, said: "The Scottish Episcopal Church, around since the Reformation, is surprisingly little known in Scotland, so we in Caithness need all the publicity we can get. The Doors Open Day is a useful addition to our practice of opening the church for people to visit on Wednesdays during the summer months."

From Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness, the programme moves to Badenoch and Strathspey and finishes in Skye and Lochalsh, where there will be special guided tours of Elgin Hostel, home of the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre, which was opened in 1933 and used to accommodate boys attending secondary school in Portree.

Councillor Thomas Prag, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Committee said: "We are really happy to support this annual event across the Highlands. As well as allowing visitors into some of the oldest buildings in the Highlands, we are really pleased that visitors will be able to see round some of the more exciting and innovative new buildings, potentially our historic buildings of the future. The event hopefully has something for everyone and is an excellent opportunity to get to see what really goes on in the buildings that you pass every day. We would like to thank all the building owners and managers who have opened their doors and made this event possible".

The full Door Open Days programme is now available to download from www.highland.gov.uk, printed copies are available from Libraries and service points.

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