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



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


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,



Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt Apparently they were! Nine o’clock meet at Glencanisp for the familiar walk up to the renovation site; this time I know everyone except Jacob, who had come all the way from the Netherlands. I’ve never seen it so dry; our boots are dusty from the desiccated track; the burn is hardly flowing at all, and the lochs are shrinking. Several weeks of dry sunny weather have left their mark. When we arrive on site, Chris G. gives a bit of advice on how to use the tools, and each of the volunteers gets their own feature to work on. Brilliant idea; I’m sure they’ll come back in the future to check their respective handiwork. In fact, Jacob has a head start; he was here previously and is now working to finish the “cross-drain” he started last time. I get a photo of one of the orchids growing next to the path that I mentioned in my May blog. To me, it’s quite significant that transplanting a bit of vegetation along the sides of


What Did The Path Workers Ever Do For Us?

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. 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. Chris G. has asked me to


John Muir Trust blog on Hill to Grill

One of our helpers for the Outdoor and Woodland Learning project’s Hill to Grill programme this year was Quinag Conservation Officer Romany Garnett from the John Muir Trust. Here is her blog post about all the activities the Ullapool High School pupils got up to over several days learning where venison comes from. Read it here


Suilven – The Second Phase

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust It’s been the snowiest Winter for a few years in the North West Highlands and last year’s work on the Suilven path has been buried under drifts for several prolonged spells. It’s been exposed to frost heave, snow melt and heavy rain but has survived everything Winter has thrown at it so far although there are a few tell-tale signs that a few extra drainage features will help give better protection against the elements long-term. The second phase of work on the path up community owned Suilven will begin in mid-April. Work this year will complete the main approach path to the foot of Suilven (a further 800m), continue stabilisation of the steep ascent to the ridge as well as a bit of bolstering of last year’s work to tackle those tell-tale signs. A helicopter lift during the week of the 7th May will transport several hundred tonnes of rock and gravel out to the work site so that the path contractors can begin on constructing a


On Age

Guest blog by Mandy Haggith, Director of Assynt Foundation. In Assynt we are very proud that our mountain, Suilven, has a starring role in a new feature film, Edie, the main character of which is an 80-something woman played by Sheila Hancock. In a lovely interview in the Herald (see here) she makes out that this is a somewhat senior age to be trotting up mountains, but compared to the ancient rocks under her feet, it’s nothing. In my long poem about Suilven, I wrote: ‘The mountain appears ancient this morning but this is an illusion caused by our scurrying, fleeting shortness of time and tenacity…   Suilven is a young softy, hard-headed perhaps, but mostly just dust washed up, a grand mud pack, a mighty sand castle.’   Suilven is a billion years old, but that makes it a youngster compared to the Lewisian gneiss on which it sits! The bedrock of gneiss that ruffles out across Assynt is among the oldest rocks on earth, more than 3 billion years old, older than recognisable life. It is a metamorphic


The Soil Beneath Our Feet

Guest blog by Joseph Peach, local musician and Project Manager for the Music & Tales project A living landscape is more than just scenery; it is the interaction between people and place. Stories, music and song reflect these interactions, helping us better understand where we have come from and where we might go. Coigach and Assynt have a wonderfully rich cultural heritage: A gàidhlig speaking area until recently, there were strong traditions of music and song, and a rich oral history. Indeed it produces more than it’s fair share of musicians who are reaching national and international acclaim. The ever-changing modern world poses a threat to oral traditions on a global scale. Simply, the practice of sharing information in this way no longer happens in a way that it once did. The project aims to capture, some of the area’s music, song and tales, while they still live amongst an ageing generation. To celebrate and promote them, and preserve them for future generations. It will create employment opportunities for musicians from the area, professional development and mentorship opportunities for our


Nearly There…

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust, from 14th July 2017. It’s been a busy few months on Suilven but the path work for this year is now drawing to a close. Since April, two path contractors, about 10 staff and a helicopter have all been involved in moving hundreds of tonnes of materials around to improve the Suilven path. What was once a trampled route across boggy ground, up to 30m wide in places, is now a robust but natural looking path that you can walk without sinking up to your knees in. The work has been 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 along the path line. As there was no real ‘path’ as such to Suilven, just an evolved route across the moorland, this has involved substantial work to lay a proper path surface which walkers will use and want to stick to. Contractors A.C.T. Heritage and Arran Footpaths have done

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape
Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeFriday, November 22nd, 2019 at 5:00pm

🎂🎉Tonight is the night we have been waiting for! Come and join quizmasters Vickii and Laura for a great night testing your knowledge, having laughs and celebrating 25 years of the National Lottery. Starting at 7:30pm, Lochinver Village Hall, teams up to 6. Free entry...

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape
Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeThursday, November 21st, 2019 at 5:10pm

Here is a little sneak peak at some of the contents in our two local produce and craft prize baskets for the quiz tomorrow. For a chance to win come along and test your knowledge on Coigach and Assynt. Free event with a lottery ticket!...

Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeThursday, November 21st, 2019 at 1:19pm

Great night time footage of Assynt's wildlife https://t.co/hqygWuqZma

Coigach & Assynt Living LandscapeWednesday, November 20th, 2019 at 6:18pm

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to keep informed about the latest news from our projects and upcoming events, training and volunteer opportunities.

Get involved

Find out how you can get involved with the project through events, training and volunteering opportunities