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End of road for £200k Suilven path restoration work

On 21st June 2019 a small ceremony was held to mark the completion of the repairs on the Suilven Path. The ceremony was attended by directors of the Assynt Foundation, and representatives of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership and the John Muir Trust, and by the project’s coordinator Chris Goodman who is now concentrating on developing his local woodcraft business, having recently stepped down from his former role. To mark the handover, a framed print of one of Chris Puddephatt’s photos was presented to the Assynt Foundation by John Muir Trust. Chris had been commissioned to document the Suilven Path project through photography and blog posts, which can be found on the Suilven Path page. Read more on the John Muir Trust website (opens new window)

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Happy Heritage Treasures Day!

Today is #HeritageTreasures day so we’re sharing some of the heritage treasures being conserved and enhanced through our partnership scheme, made possible thanks to players of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Lets start big with the iconic mountain Suilven, where the path has been mightily improved by John Muir Trust over the last two years under the Suilven Path project. Suilven also holds a Heritage Treasure of its own: the mysterious wall that runs across its ridge, shown here while a helicopter delivers bags of stone for the higher up path repairs. No one quite knows why it’s there. Old boundary? Destitution relief work? Who knows. One of the reasons for repairing the Suilven path is to protect the Heritage Treasures at risk from walkers’ footfall such internationally significant bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), peat beds (important for carbon storage), and plantlife like this orchid next to the new path. If the 19km trek up Suilven and back is a bit much, the Assynt Foundation is also home to the Glencanisp Nature Trail. Built in 2017 the trail is a

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Learning The Way!

By Katrina Martin, CALLP Education Manager (Job Share) Ever since I stepped into the role of Education Manager for the Outdoor & Woodland Learning Project I have been excited at the prospect of delivering an Outdoor Learning session themed around paths, especially given the variety of paths and access projects CALLP has. Like many of us, I enjoy going out for walks and accessing beautiful places. Yet until relatively recently I didn’t give a second thought to where I was placing my feet. A growing awareness has cultivated an appreciation for the impressively hard graft and the people involved in path work, which I feel is a valuable thing to share given that most of us find ourselves traversing footpaths at some point or another, and will be increasingly so in Coigach and Assynt! With the imminent completion of the Suilven path work, we were presented with a great opportunity to bring a path-themed Outdoor Learning day to fruition on a collaboration project with John Muir Trust Paths Project Officer, Chris Goodman, and the Assynt Foundation. For the past couple

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We’ve ‘Done’ Suilven

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust I look at my watch, it’s 5.30pm and it’s still a long walk back to Glencanisp from the steep slope on the north side of Suilven. It’s the last day on site of the path repair project and it’s been all hands on deck getting everything finished off. The last bit of pitching has turned into an epic with the steep ground above collapsing, water gushing out of a spring and an ever spreading mess of peat. Xabi, Luke and Alec have been toiling away with it all day and it’s finally done. We set off from Glencanisp just after 8am and it’ll be 7pm before we get back down, but the job’s done. In fact that’s pretty much the whole Suilven path project done (bar the final paper work). Three years of project development and fund-raising and two summers of hands-on construction and it’s done. But as with a hill walker celebrating they’ve ‘done’ Suilven, a path repair project is never done, because a hill can

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The Final Push

Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt Only a few days left now; the whole project is nearing completion. Time has flown. Scary. At the beginning of this season I met Chris Goodman to identify a few sites as likely candidates for “before and after” shots and got the first set in the bag. Now I’m back with him trying to identify the same sections of muddy or stony eroded path for the follow-up. Some are really easy, but others prove a challenge as they’ve changed so much. As I start shooting, I realise that the first set were on a different camera/ lens combination, and it’s not making it easier….. My fault; I should’ve checked before I left home. Anyway, the pictures speak for themselves. Job done! The lower path workers are long gone, but the Arran boys are still here. Today I meet up with Alec and Xabi again, and also Johny and Rab who I’ve not seen since 2017. I have to admit that I’ve missed these folks, and I hardly know them really. And this is

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Groundhog Day

Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt After several attempts to contact Alec the team leader by phone (mine was playing up, and his had no signal at all…. modern technology!!!), I drove up to Glencanisp one evening to have a proper old fashioned conversation about my next visit. It was good to meet again after almost 12 months. The following day, the forecast said that early drizzle and mist would clear mid-morning; three separate forecasts, no less. That would be fine, so off I went; accompanied by a mate, Derek, who hadn’t been to Suilven for too long. We drank tea in the car park to let the weather clear a bit; then it looked brighter, so we set off. Duped. Up at the gully, we met Alec, Xabi and Ewan, and it was wet. I planned to do some time-lapse and carried all the gear, which is quite heavy after a while, but it wasn’t happening in these conditions. Derek and myself thought we were buying time by going up to the summit, but all we did was

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Suilven photobook available for download

Following the success of the Suilven Path project’s blog posts last year, the project’s lead Chris Goodman of John Muir Trust made the blog posts into a wonderful photobook. Due to the high cost of printing them we only have a small number of copies available to read which are located at: Suileag bothy, Glencanisp Lodge, Assynt Leisure Centre and our office. We always take a copy with us to events like the Coigach Gathering or the Assynt Games and people love having a look through at the stunning photos and the great text alongside them. The blogs are all still available to read on the website but you can now also download the pdf version of the photobook! Due to the high file size we had to split it into two files for our website to accept it, but we’re looking to put a higher resolution version up at some point in the future. Download Part 1 and Part 2 of the photobook below: Download Suilven Path Repair 2017 Photobook Part 1 Download Suilven Path Repair 2017 Photobook Part

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Sometimes things just don’t work out

Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt Mid-July and I hear that work has resumed in the gully up to the summit ridge, whilst the path across the peat must be almost finished. I’m keen to meet up with the “upper team” that I first saw on that cold foggy day; well over a year ago now. Before I head off up the trail, I make a couple of phone calls and only get answerphones, then Stewart from Glencanisp throws doubt on whether the Upper Team are actually up there at all today. It was an omen, or two. But it’s a nice day, so off I go. As I leave the trees by the Lodge, I get a heady scent; one of my summer favourites actually, Meadowsweet flowering near to the track. Also Valerian with it; that should calm things down….. And there’s a flash of bright blue: Tufted Vetch. Later I get a vivid patch of yellow from Stonecrop too. At least there are some nice flowers; Suilven is wearing its hat of grey cloud. I pass quite

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Rant

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust I’ve been looking over the work on the steep north side of Suilven that was completed last year. The team worked on two sections, one halfway up the slope where the path had become a steep loose scree shoot and at the bealach where a broad gully was forming. The work was technically challenging due to the gradient and ground conditions but the team did a fantastic job of building pitching (continuous stone steps), revetment (building up the edge of the path with boulders where it had collapsed) and of blocking desire lines (using boulders to guide walkers away from the unsustainable direct line). Looking at the work a year on though and it’s already showing signs that not everyone is sticking to the built path. It’s a common problem which happens for a number of reasons and can be very frustrating if I’m not mindful. One cause is the height of the steps. Anything over about 6” and it’s too high a step for a lot

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Working on the Path

Guest Blog by path worker, Mark O’Brien To have the privilege to be able to work in such an amazing place really is the best thing about building the Suilven path. I’ve always had an attachment to Glencanisp since I first arrived that spring in 2014. Now I’m getting the chance to watch it change over the season; all the plants that blossom and the birds that visit the area as the time goes by. From watching ravens playing tag with each other on the crags, to seeing the water being wisped out of the lochan by strong gusty winds at lunch breaks. The hill really has a lot of character, standing proud on the Lochinver skyline, but working next to it gives me the chance to better see the details of its slopes, counting the gullies when the fog rolls in on the tops, listening to the calls of the birds that nest on its cliffs and seeing how its shadows change shape throughout the day. Building the path to Suilven is the least I can do for it,

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