After four months of intensive work involving two path contractors, about 10 staff and an airlift of over 100 tonnes of rock, the first stage of the project to repair and upgrade sections of the path leading to Suilven in Assynt has now been completed.
The work, which will cost around £200k, is being undertaken as part of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) Scheme with the aim of halting the ongoing loss of vegetation and erosion of soil – particularly fragile peat – along the path line.
The project is a partnership between the Assynt Foundation, who own and manage Suilven on behalf of the community, and the John Muir Trust who are project managing the repair work.
By creating a good path line which will enable walkers to stick to a single route through the landscape, the encroachment onto the blanket bog peat which has led to increasing losses of carbon dioxide, will hopefully be halted or even reversed. What was once a trampled route across boggy ground, up to 30m wide in places, is now a robust but natural-looking path that walkers can use without sinking up to their knees.
Chris Goodman, Path Officer for the John Muir Trust, reflected on what a difference the work so far has made: “At the start of the project I always walked out to the work site in wellies as the ground was so peaty and soft but now it’s a joy to be able to walk out in boots or a good pair of trainers and not get wet feet. Contractors ACT Heritage and Arran Footpaths have done an excellent job of constructing the path and stabilising steep mobile ground.”
Andy Taylor, who set up ACT Heritage – having learnt his trade originally through the local Culag Community Woodland Trust training course – said: “It was a big job, but I’m really grateful I got the opportunity to be involved with the work and really proud to have left my mark on Suilven.”
Meanwhile, spare a thought for Alec McMullen, regular team member for Arran Footpaths who, over the course of the contract, walked over 450 miles just getting to and from the remote work site every day.
Further work will be carried out on the path in Spring 2018.
The John Muir Trust wishes to thank everyone involved with the project and also to our funders The Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, the European Outdoor Conservation Association, Scottish Mountaineering Trust and the John Muir Trust.