The initial stage of a major project to upgrade the Ben Nevis Mountain Track has been completed, with a 1km stretch repaired in time for the summer visitor high season.
Over a three-year period the aim is to upgrade the lower half of the heavily used and badly eroded trail, a total distance of 3.5km between Achintee and John's Wall. The first phase took six months and cost more than £300,000.
Due to the sheer numbers who use the path in summer, repairs had to be carried out over the much more difficult winter months.
Path work on Britain’s highest mountain is highly technical and challenging, say the Nevis Landscape Partnership, who are overseeing the project, but is essential to protect the unique and fragile environment. Over the last few years the Mountain Track has fallen into a state of disrepair that would only have got worse without intervention.
'Walkers now have a first-rate path to enjoy this spectacular area of Scotland, and we’re delighted to be a key funding partner for these highly skilled repair works' said George Hogg, Area Manager for South Highland at Scottish Natural Heritage.
'The upgraded path will protect internationally important and fragile vegetation from further unsightly erosion. Part of our role at SNH is to help people benefit from a healthy natural environment, and this improved path should help more people have first-hand experience of our stunning nature and landscapes'
The importance of Ben Nevis to the local economy is also increasingly being recognised as Scott Dingwall, Head of Regional Development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, explained:
'Maintaining and enhancing high quality access to Ben Nevis, which attracts significant visitor numbers each year, is essential for protecting and growing the value of the local and regional tourism economy in terms of future jobs and investment' he said.
This initial work was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, sportscotland, Legacy 2014: Active Places Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Phase two is due to begin in September 2016.