Following its success last year in a Euro-wide online poll worth £18,000 towards the restoration of the Suilven footpath, the John Muir Trust has now officially launched a wider public appeal to raise the balance of funding.
Situated in the spectacular landscape of West Sutherland, Suilven lies on community-owned land managed by the Assynt Foundation. With its distinctive geography and spectacular location, the mountain attracts visitors from all over the UK and beyond.
Due to increasing popularity, fragile soils and a harsh climate, the most popular approach to Suilven, beginning at Glencanisp, is rapidly deteriorating. The Suilven path restoration project will set out to repair an eroded 2.5km section of the route to prevent further damage and maintain public access, helping support tourism in the local community. It also aims to protect this rare habitat of peat bog and wet heath, and the plant species and wildlife it supports.
The path repair work, which is expected to cost in the region of £200,000, will be carried out by the John Muir Trust and the Assynt Foundation under the umbrella of the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) Partnership, one of Europe’s largest landscape restoration projects.
The John Muir Trust is now hoping to raise an additional £50,000 via a public appeal, which is key to triggering the release of the remaining funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage to meet the total project cost so that work can start as soon as possible.
The Trust hopes to raise cash donations from many the 6,000-plus people who voted in the online poll last October, which was hosted by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), a not-for-profit organisation which works with 120 affiliated members from across the European outdoor industry to give something back to the environment. The project was nominated for the EOCA vote by outdoor clothing and gear firm Berghaus.
Stewart Hill, Chair of the Assynt Foundation, said: “Of all of the mountains in North West Scotland it is the unique shape and form of Suilven that make it stand out and attract so many walkers to the Assynt Foundation land on which Suilven stands.
The Assynt Foundation gladly welcomes these visitors, but their footfall does cause erosion, which is why we urgently need to repair the path in a manner that will preserve it in the long term.”
Richard Williams, Manager of the CALL Partnership said: “The Partnership has evolved specifically to tackle challenges like this. The benefit of organisations working together to share expertise can be huge, but funding is always needed to turn aspirations into reality. Our thanks go out to all that have made a commitment to the appeal, and we’d urge everyone who loves Suilven to follow suit.”
Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington said “The most magical walk I have ever known was on Suilven. It is a very special place, in a wonderful setting, and I urge the public to back this important path restoration project.”
You can find out more and make a donation to the appeal at www.johnmuirtrust.org/suilven