THEY led the way through one of Scotland’s most famous mountain ranges. Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie are credited with creating many of the routes across the Cuillins on Skye.

Now, a new tourist attraction on Skye marking their mountaineering history is being installed – made possible after a local community heritage group successfully reached its £117,000 target.

A bronze sculpture has been erected at Sligachan, against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains – paying tribute to the two renowned mountaineering figures.

“It is unfortunate that due to the current restrictions and with advice from the Scottish Government we are not able to have the ‘Grand Opening’ that had always been our plan,” said Morag Nicolson, chairwoman of the Collie and Mackenzie Heritage Group.

“However we will be using technology to provide a live stream of the big reveal.

“After Saturday the sculpture will be available for all to see but we would ask that everyone continues to abide by the rules – no large gatherings, ensure social distancing and when necessary wear a mask.

“Thank you all for your support, donations and encouragement – without which we would not be where we are today. I look forward to the day when we can all meet again and celebrate this magnificent achievement.”

Born in 1856, John Mackenzie of Sconser began climbing from an early age, first conquering Sgurr nan Gillean aged just 10. Through his escapades, the intrepid explorer went on to be the first native Scot to become a professional mountain guide. It was during his endeavours he met internationally renowned scientist and mountain expert Norman Collie, a regular visitor to the area.

The pair formed an alliance and friendship spanning more than half a century, and worked to create many well-known routes across the mountain range.

The heritage group had already raised £200,000 to complete the first stage of the project, which included the formation of a 21-space car park, information panels, stone seating and the removal of an unsightly overhead power system.

Its’ second fundraising target has now been met and the group is planning an online celebration to mark the occasion of the unveiling of the new tourist attraction.

As well as local MSP and Finance Minister Kate Forbes, other notable supporters of the project include First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford – Skye’s MP and SNP group leader at Westminster.

Ms Forbes said previously: “This is an incredible feat of fundraising. It is amazing to see the Collie Mackenzie Heritage Group has finally fundraised its target to build a monument.

“The project team have never given up, even when the fundraising target seemed far beyond their reach.”

Skye councillor John Finlayson added: “Members of the steering group should be congratulated on their dogged determination to get to this stage. I appreciate the opportunity I had to be involved in the project at an early stage when I was a head teacher and also to be able to support the group in more recent times.”

The group wishes to thanks all who contributed, and specifically seafood firm MOWI, the Struan Community Trust, Suez Communities Trust, EB (Environmental Body) Scotland and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.

More than 80 per cent of the money came from private donations.