Suilven is owned by the Assynt Foundation. Photo: Paul Hermans CC-BY-SA-3.0

Suilven is owned by the Assynt Foundation. Photo: Paul Hermans CC-BY-SA-3.0

Work on repairing a badly eroded path has begun on Suilven, one of Assynt’s most popular mountains.

The restoration programme on the community-owned peak is costing £200,000.

Conservation charity the John Muir Trust said, due to increasing popularity, fragile soils and harsh climate, the most popular approach to Suilven, beginning at Glencanisp, is rapidly deteriorating.

“The restoration project will set out to repair an eroded 2.5km section of the route to prevent further damage and maintain public access, and protect the rare habitat of peat bog and wet heath, along with the plants and wildlife it supports,” it said. “It will aim to create a high quality, but still natural-looking path.”

The Suilven Path Project is a partnership between the Assynt Foundation, which owns the mountain and the John Muir Trust, which is managing the work, as part of Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The scheme was crucial in pulling together the project and drawing in vital funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, while the John Muir Trust has so far raised over £75,000 towards the work, including £18,000 which it won in a Europe-wide online poll in 2015.

Chris Goodman, paths officer for the trust said: “This is one of Scotland’s best loved mountains and we’ll be treating it with the respect it deserves.

“We will only [work] on those sections of the path where there is erosion – and we will make sure the repairs are carried out in a sensitive manner so that it blends in well with the landscape. Thanks to support from players of the National Lottery, this work should help ensure that both the spectacular views of the mountain and the enjoyment of walking up its slopes are protected.”

The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, the European Outdoor Conservation Association, the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and donations from the general public through the John Muir Trust Suilven path appeal.

The trust said the project will create about 10 jobs during the construction phases which will run through the late spring and early summer of 2017 and 2018. As well as those directly involved in the path work there will also be opportunities for local artists and writers to be involved with documenting the work.

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