A massive project is underway to restore a popular trail in Glen Sligachan on the Isle of Skye. The route over Druim Hain to Loch Coruisk is severely eroded and the work to improve it, which has been commissioned by the John Muir Trust, will take place over several years at a total cost of around £200,000.
Chris Goodman, Footpath Officer for the John Muir Trust, said: 'Glen Sligachan is a dramatic wild place where you feel far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It lingers in the memory of all those who visit.'
'But in heavy rain, water cascades down the path line and, with no vegetation or roots to hold the soil together, more and more of the ground is being washed away exposing loose scree. The resulting scar is already visible from the slopes of nearby Bla Bheinn, and is growing longer, wider and deeper year on year.'
'The repair work aims to reduce the visibility of the path within the wider landscape, and to reduce trampling and exposure of peat on the Sligachan Peatlands, a Special Area of Conservation.'
The first phase focuses on a remote site 8km from Sligachan, where surface water, combined with footfall, has created a bare gully 7km long, up to 7m wide and nearly 1m deep. Sorting this is expected to take three and half months, sat the JMT, with work extending into 2016 at a cost of around £70,000 including helicopter lifts.
The second phase of the project is scheduled to start in October 2016, with the final stage expected in 2017.
'Although the work will involve the construction of man-made features such as steps and drains, our plan is to construct these in a more organic style. We’ve also chosen a natural meandering line for the path so it will blend into the landscape, with more natural contours' says Chris Goodman.
The Druim Hain project follows on from similar work on Bla Bheinn last year (see UKH news here), which involved reducing a seven metre wide watercourse into a more natural path with rocks set and angled to reduce future erosion.
To find out more about the footpath work carried out by the John Muir Trust, see this short film: