Recent visitors to Cruachan hydro power station in Argyllshire have been delighted with a new ‘visitor attraction’ – the adults from a family of four pine martens.
Built over 50 years ago, Cruachan’s power station lies a kilometre below the ground where turbines convert water from the nearby loch into electricity.
But it is the above-ground ‘Hollow Mountain’ café – and its tasty homemade treats – that has instead captured the attention of the adult pine martens.
Cafe assistant Shona Mcleman said: “There have been a few sightings over the years but this family in particular seen well and truly settled in now. The adults had their babies down by the loch and run up daily to collect food for them and take it down to their den, before returning to eat more themselves.”
Pine martens – one of the rarest mammals in the UK – are now a protected species and the Cruachan ‘family’ appear to have settled in well.
In fact, the pine martens have even hopped on the power station tour bus as it got ready to depart for its regular trip inside the ‘Hollow Mountain’ to the surprise of waiting tourists.
Shona added: “They’ve been on the bus a few times now, but we can’t take pine martens inside the mountain! The best way to get them off is with a trail of cake crumbs, that always does the trick. You can’t fault their curiosity but visitors to the power station can definitely get some unexpected photo opportunities!”
One recent visitor, Mike Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: “Although Pine Martens are not quite as rare now as they were a few years ago, thanks to the effect of their listing as a species in danger, they are still not plentiful and are never easy to see.
“Consequently the opportunity to do so at Cruachan is a good one, as I can testify myself having had the excitement of spotting one of them when I was last at the power station.”