Suilven in winter. Photo: Iain Brownlie Roy

Suilven in winter. Photo: Iain Brownlie Roy

A mountaineering elder statesman is urging outdoor enthusiasts to back a plan to raise £50,000 to help complete repairs to a path on a ‘magical walk’.

Sir Chris Bonington is supporting the John Muir Trust’s bid to restore the route up Suilven in the North-West of Scotland.

The trust won a bid to secure and £18,000 prize from the European Outdoor Conservation Association last year for work on the path, but is now hoping some of those who voted for the project will chip in to help the work.

The path repair work, which is expected to cost about £200,000, will be carried out by the John Muir Trust and the Assynt Foundation under the umbrella of the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape Partnership, one of Europe’s largest landscape restoration projects.

The John Muir Trust is hoping to raise an additional £50,000 via a public appeal, which it said is the 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 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 brand Berghaus, of which Sir Chris is chairman.

Sir Chris 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.”

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 its rare habitat of peat bog and wet heath, and the plant species and wildlife it supports.

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.”

More information and details of how to donate are on the John Muir Trust website.

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