Landscape Routes App

Through the development of a North West Highlands Geopark business plan, community consultation and a workshop focused on developing an interpretation strategy for Coigach and Assynt, it was noted that although interpretation and information on walking routes and landscape is a key part of visitor experience, digitisation into an app would create a central hub and improve access to this data. The aims of the project are to: Produce an app providing interpretation of the landscape from walking and driving routes passing through the project area. Highlight the geology that underpins the landscape of the local area and link it to the features of the landscape that people are passing through. Offer information on local service providers that can be easily updated and added to at low cost. Include several sites where virtual tours can be taken.

Glencanisp Wildlife Hide

Black throated divers are synonymous with the Assynt and Coigach areas.  Black throated divers are classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review, and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The area’s lochs are breeding grounds for these rare and special birds and offer the opportunity to study them and their habitat.  One such loch is Loch Druim Suardalain near to Glencanisp Lodge, where breeding pairs of black throated divers have successfully raised young over the past few years.  Otters also regularly visit this loch.  A viewing hide here would be easily accessible allowing people of many abilities to watch and learn about the wildlife of the area. The aims of the project are to: Build a viewing hide providing the means for the public to watch birds and wildlife near Glencanisp Lodge, on the edge of Loch Druim Suardalain. Provide opportunities for local volunteer birdwatchers to record and report any sightings to the Assynt Field Club, to feed into the Natural Heritage Data Project. Develop and display

Glencanisp Nature Trail

The centre for the community owned Glencanisp Estate is the Glencanisp Lodge area which contains the office for Assynt Foundation, a Community Arts building, a pole barn, a local pottery and a walled garden.  This area also marks the start of the path to Suilven, a walk and hill climb which takes on average 9 hours to complete.  There is also the Glencanisp to River Inver Loop Path, the circuit of which takes approximately 21/2 hours to complete.  At present there are no way-marked shorter walks and no paths allowing exploration the ground and wildlife found in the vicinity of the lodge. The aim of this project is to construct a 450 metre long path which loops to the north of the lodge area, starting from the Arts building and finishing at the entrance track to the lodge.  Walkers will be able to complete a circuit of the path learning about the nature of the area using the nature trail leaflet developed during the project.  The path will be constructed to a width of 1.2 metres with an unbound dust

Culag Woods and Little Assynt Paths

Culag Community Woodland Trust Ltd (CCWT) owns and manages on behalf of the community two areas of land in Assynt for amenity use: Culag Woods – a 40 hectare mixed woodland in Lochinver, and; Little Assynt – a 1,200 hectare estate approximately 5 miles east of Lochinver. Both contain a variety of paths which have been worked on at various points since CCWT was established in 1995.  Technical upgrades and repairs are now required on short sections of several paths to improve old pitching, replace wooden steps and improve drainage to reduce the impact of future adverse weather and keep future maintenance liabilities and costs to a minimum. The path improvements at both Culag Woods and Little Assynt will improve the experience of path users giving better access to people of “more abilities”.  The additional features will create easier access to both areas enabling the woodlands to be enjoyed by more people.  More access means more people become connected to these places which in turn can lead to more volunteers to help look after the woodlands. An increased awareness of

Quinag Summit Paths

Quinag’s paths are exposed to some of the most extreme weather that the Assynt area experiences throughout the year. The paths are also extremely popular with both local and visiting hill walkers, and have predominantly evolved over time due to recreational access. They are currently in mixed condition as a result of this access and the harsh climate. The erosion not only has a detrimental effect on the paths but also impacts on the soils and vegetation. The project aims to repair the eroded sections of path by using a pre-emptive and light touch approach. John Muir Trust will use low impact methods to repair and restore the route to a naturalised path which will maintain a high quality, wild land experience for hill walkers together with protecting the fragile upland environment.  Higher sections of the path are currently particularly at risk where rainfall and snowmelt have washed away the route. Using experienced contractors, boulders from the nearby hillside will be used to stabilise the steeper ground and also to construct drainage features to shed water off the path. All

Polbain Coastal Paths

The Polbain Coastal Path will be a new path built to complete the circular recreational route around the crofting village of Polbain, connecting the existing Polbain Peat Track and Waymarked Hill Path. The aim is to make more accessible the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Coigach coast from Polbain to Big Dornie by building a new path that is widely accessible to visitors and residents of ‘mixed abilities’. Having a designated path will limit disturbance to habitats, wildlife and livestock.

Acheninver Coastal Path

The Acheninver Path has been used by walkers to access the youth hostel for at least the last 100 years. It links to a network of local paths forming a circular route that includes the core path between Achduart and Culnacraig and onwards from Culnacraig round Ben More Coigach to Strath Cannaird. To the north the path links to a rough track which runs up to the Achlochan Peninsula. The current path to the coast at Acheninver is uneven, eroded and waterlogged in places. The connecting coastal route to the Broch at Achlochan lacks clear way-markers and easy access. As a result, walkers in the area are more likely to contribute to erosion, trample habitats and disturb wildlife and livestock. The project will seek to respect the original path construction and feel, whilst adding drainage features to improve water management across the path thereby reducing surface run off and further erosion.

Postie’s Path

The Postie’s Path is a spectacular coastal walking route linking the communities of Coigach and Ullapool. It was the main land-based communication route to Coigach until the early 1900s used by postmen carrying royal mail to and from Ullapool. Today it is much loved and used by locals and visitors alike. The path is mainly a mountain route passing through wild land. The two more accessible ends of the path are more widely used, offering short walks to places of interest like the impressive Iron Age hill fort at Dun Canna. The path needs considerable repair and improvements to increase its accessibility to a wider range of users while protecting the coastal environment and natural beauty of the area. The two ends of the path need to be repaired and upgraded to give a good easy access path. The mountain section of the path needs clearer way-marking, helping to maintain the path in a suitable wild land condition whilst helping avoid walkers losing their way.

Suilven Path

Suilven is one of the most dramatic and iconic hills of Assynt. Recreational access to the summit of Suilven is having an adverse effect on vegetation and soils along the established access routes. Small sections of the path have deteriorated over the last few years and this process will only continue if the path is not consolidated and protected. This project aims to upgrade the main approach path to Suilven and repair the erosion caused by recreational access on Suilven itself. The project will create a more durable and sustainable path protecting the landscape from erosion and ensuring visitor’s experiences aren’t adversely affected by an eroded and deteriorating path. The path will be repaired to an appropriate condition in keeping with the wild, rugged landscape of Assynt and create a more sustainable path line, helping to ensure walkers enjoy their experiences on Suilven and that the area continues to be considered a desirable and highly regarded destination for hill walking. The project will also demonstrate how major path restoration work in a wild landscape can be undertaken sensitively and appropriately

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