Guest blog: Digging holes and shifting stones on Suilven

Chris Puddephatt's blog and photos capture Trust volunteers hard at work during the final phase of the Suilven path restoration project

Chris puddephatt jmt volunteers suilven path work june 2018 detail

I've heard that a band of 10 John Muir Trust conservation work party volunteers have been in Assynt and Coigach all week; helping out on various projects.

Today, they’re meeting at Glencanisp Lodge, and will split into two groups. Some make the long trek up to the Suilven path restoration project to put in some steps and upgrade a section of path that hasn’t bedded in properly; the others head off up the nature trail near the Lodge to deal with some unwanted gorse.

I join the path workers, as I’ve been covering the project on a photographic commission for Coigach Assynt Living Landscape Partnership since it began. Today is technically a “day off” for me, but I felt I’d like to document the event anyway….

It’s a hot day, and in late June, that means the conversation inevitably includes discussion about midges, ticks and cleggs, and our defensive strategies! On site, we get down to the serious business of drinking coffee and eating biscuits (or was it just me?) before the digging of holes and shifting of stones begins. Chris Goodman the local John Muir Trust footpath man, and Sandy the volunteer coordinator outline the plan and they all get stuck in.

Every time I come up here, the walkers passing by express their gratitude for the path work, saying how much they appreciate it for themselves, and also to safeguard the environment. The peat was getting well trashed before this work started, and some of the walkers remember this from previous visits too.

I grab a bit of lunch, say “goodbye” and head back down the track by myself. The return is hotter and sunnier. I stop to get some landscape shots and get bitten by cleggs on the parts of me that have sunscreen but not insect repellant.

Glencanisp honesty shop; my regular ice-cream stop is like “first aid” today!

I then track down the other four volunteers: heads down removing unwanted gorse bushes around the nature trail. They’d found the ice-cream too!

On the way, I nip down to the edge of the loch and get a final Suilven shot and head home.

It turns out that it wasn’t my final shot at all; later that evening I was returning from a beer-on-the-beach with Chris G. and see the big moon from the viewpoint at Strone Hill and then get the real final shot at a quarter to midnight!

Chris Puddephatt JMT vols suilven path work June 2018