New lease of life for Valtos Outdoor Centre

The new centre will overlook the stunning beach at Valtos.
The new centre will overlook the stunning beach at Valtos.

The former school at Valtos on the west side of Lewis is to be demolished to make way for a new purpose built outdoor centre which will be open in Spring 2015.

Many island residents will recollect school trips and youth group visits to the site which has not been used fully as an outdoor centre for nearly a decade.

A project to revive the centre has been an aspiration of the local community for several years but significant progress has now been made with all funding in place to take forward the plan.

The Valtos Centre Trust has secured a £1 million package from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and from European funds to get underway.

Comhairle Convener Norman M MacDonald - who many will remember in his role within the Comhairle’s Community Education team at the centre during the 1990s - is a director on the Valtos Centre Trust along with his council colleague Cllr Cudig Macleod.

He said this week, it had been a long journey to get to this point.

“I am delighted to get to this stage, it has been quite a complex project to put together. Initially the plan was going to be refurbishment but through the process we found it wasn’t viable to do the work on the 150 year old building and trying to do something with it.”

He added: “We will demolish the existing building, the old school, and construct a new purpose-built facility to cater for residential for up to 40 plus people.”

Bringing the site back into use as a key location for outdoor activities is also hoped to boost the local economy.

The building has to be finished by December 14th 2014 so the Trust are looking to open in the spring of 2015.

The currrent building at Valtos was a school until the early 1970s when it closed and was shortly after re-opened and developed as an outdoor centre.

From that time it became a major fixture in the educational calendar for island pupils and groups such as Girlguides, Scouts and other youth groups. It was tradition for Primary 7 pupils to spend a few days at the centre in their final year of primary before moving on to secondary school.

If you have photographs of trips to the Valtos Centre during the 1970s, 80s or 90s, we would love to hear from you. Send your images to or share them with us on Facebook at