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Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt

Apart from making it easier to walk and navigate safely to the top of a mountain, whilst protecting the environment and allowing the damaged bits to regenerate?

The 2018 season of path restoration is well underway by the time I’m able to visit. About a third of the 300 bags of stone and gravel (a tonne each) have already been flown up by helicopter.

The “lower path team” from ACT Heritage, Matt, Mark and Lachlan, have made progress too. Just as well: three people have a mere 250 tonnes of material to put in by hand! And that’s after they’ve dug a hole to put it in!

Of course, that begs the question of what they’re gonna do with the stuff they dig out. Guess they could dig a hole to put it in.

Matt & Mark get started on the 1st bags. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
Matt & Mark get started on the 1st bags. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

It’s a sunny day; willow warblers are singing in the trees along the burn, sandpipers are calling around the lochs and orchid leaves are springing up right next to last year’s path work.

Last year’s section of finished path with Canisp behind. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
Last year’s section of finished path with Canisp behind. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

Chris G. has asked me to record the damage and erosion on a few sections of path due for repair, so we can do “before & after” comparisons.

Before I get there, I catch up with Matt, Mark and Chris himself toiling away and grab a few pictures.

After a coffee, Chris joins me for a while so we can identify a few damaged sections.

I’ve only lived up here for a few years, but I’m seeing a real deterioration year on year. Not just on the Suilven path either; several of our local mountains are suffering from increased footfall. It’s really great to have these places to roam, but the popular ones do need a bit of TLC. Last year’s work up here has really helped; the wide, dark, peaty scars are already healing nicely. And, as a walker, I find it so much nicer not to have to navigate through these wet, boggy sections.

One of the boggy peaty sections of the path. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
One of the boggy peaty sections of the path. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

This week also sees the launch of a new film: “Edie”, with Sheila Hancock climbing this very mountain. That’ll bring more walkers, so time is of the essence now.

The film comes to Lochinver this week in the Screen Machine mobile cinema, and they’ve kindly agreed to do a presentation of last year’s photos before the main film.

So me and Chris discuss the worst damage that needs fixing; I take some pictures, and then go up to the summit for lunch. Lovely!

Find out more about the Suilven Path Project here


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