A REUNION between two old friends has raised the profile of the Kilsyth area as a visitor destination – after images of Duncarron Fort were beamed round the world!
These two old friends were of course Hollywood legend Russell Crowe and his pal Charlie Allan, who is the chief executive of heritage charity the Clanranald Trust in the Carron Valley.
The trust has spent nearly two decades planning and building a motte and bailey, typical of a Scottish clan chief’s residence, where visitors will be able to experience the unique atmosphere.
There is every prospect also that the site could be used as a film set – and if the right film can be found, the prospect of Russell filming there in the future cannot be ruled out.
Casting of extras would also be taken care of – as the trust provides these for film battle scenes, like that on Gladiator where Charlie met Russell!
The matter was discussed on Sunday when the 47-year-old New Zealander made what was his first visit to Scotland – after honouring a promise to Charlie.
‘‘I said to Russell: ‘Why don’t you come to Scotland?’ and he said: ‘I might just do that’, “ said Charlie.
And on Sunday, Russell finally jetted in – in a move which has also made a star of this distinctive location itself.
“It’s taken a lot of planning and the girls in our office have been working so hard for the last two weeks sorting out media access and security, but it has been worth it,” he added.
When asked what Russell is really like Charlie said: “He’s a very warm generous guy.
“He listens very intensely to what you’ve got to say and gives good advice.
“He’ll often get back to you with suggestions. I think he enjoyed his visit. And it all happened because two old pals got together!’’
Russell famously donated a BATTERING RAM to Duncarron which had been used as a prop on Robin Hood and has used Twitter to urge his 200,000 followers to support the work being done at the fort.
He has been particularly keen to highlight the work the trust has done with the long-term unemployed and the criminal reform service – as well as giving staff a shout-out!
Meanwhile community leaders believe Russell’s visit will help to put the Kilsyth area on the tourism map.
Kilsyth International Carnival co-founder Rob Kay said: ‘‘All credit to the Clanranald Trust for pulling this one off.
“The fort is an excellent example of a sustainable form of tourism which we are keen to develop in this area.
“There is an obvious link with a film like Gladiator and the Antonine Wall. It’s a place that is accessible by car at least or even by cycle although it is a fairly adventurous journey down the Tak Ma Doon Road.”
Rob believes that aside from the fort there is plenty to enjoy in the area – and that the high profile visitor could well prompt more tourists to follow his example.
“It’s a wonderful area and we’re keen to develop lots of outdoor pursuits like horse riding and canal-based activities and with the price of petrol, we are keen to emphasise that this is an accessible spot, unlike some more famous tourist destinations,’’he added.