Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust, from 6th June 2017.

After four years of preparation I can’t believe the path work on Suilven has flown by so quickly. Arran Footpaths have now finished this year’s work on the higher sections of Suilven while A.C.T. Heritage are half way through their work on the lower path.

It feels like it’s all whizzed by in a storm of activity and action but that’s quite often the way with path work – once contractors are on site it’s all hands on deck and a race to the finish. But it’s also felt like a real privilege to be involved with the whole process and spend more time out there, getting to know Suilven.

Spending more time lower down on Suilven I’ve noticed things that I’ve just walked past before, chiff chaffs singing from trees near the start of the path, primroses in flower a bit further along, birch, rowan and aspen growing from inaccessible ledges and gullies and Merlin calling flying over the Bealach.

A rowan taking root by the side of Loch an Leòthaid. Photo © Chris Goodman.
A rowan taking root by the side of Loch an Leòthaid. Photo © Chris Goodman.

It’s easy to miss these things when summit fever grips you but seeing and hearing the wildlife around Suilven has opened my eyes to how much more is out there. Old long dead pine roots near the path also remind me how much more life has lived out there in the past and how much more could live there now.

While the old pine roots died and got buried in peat thousands of years ago as the climate changed, nowadays the absence of woodland is more down to human intervention. However, the presence of trees wherever there is a ledge or a gully that gives them protection from herbivores gives me hope that with appropriate management our native woodland and all the species that live in it could slowly come back.

The start of the walk out to Suilven takes you through the newly planted area around Glencanisp Lodge. I’ve been watching over the last several weeks as the fence went up and the seedlings – oak, birch, rowan, hazel and more – have been steadily planted. It’ll take a while but it’s the start of something and as I continue to venture out to Suilven I look forward to watching the trees grow, the woodland develop and myriad birds return and find a home there.

The new woodland at Glencanisp. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
The new woodland at Glencanisp. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

Find out more about the Suilven Path Project here

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape

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