Staff blog: Summer walk on Quinag reveals some natural gems

Quinag conservation officer Romany Garnett describes the area's biodiversity as discovered on a guided walk in September

Romany garnett   orb web spider araneus diadematus detail

One of my favourite walks on Quinag is more of an exploration than a long hike.

Climbing down over wet heathland, we entered a hidden woodland where hardly anyone goes. There are more signs of badger life here than of people, the snuffle holes scattered across the woodland floor were evidence of their activity.

We stood very still among the birch trees as a speckled wood butterfly danced across our path. Speckled wood butterflies love shady places and used to be confined to more southern regions, but in recent years have spread northwards. This might be due to climate change.

Leaving the woodlands for the shore we negotiated a deer wallow, where the red deer enjoy a roll in a mud bath possibly to ease the itching of ticks and midges.

Lunch was taken on the rocky shore line looking out towards Kylesku Bridge. This part of the Trust's property is quite breathtaking and it was an idyllic spot for lunch - even the midges kept away.

Strolling back up the hill it soon became apparent that it is spider breading season. The orb web spiders make webs that are threaded into the higher vegetation such as purple moor grass. These spiders are quite impressive with beautiful patterned bodies (see picture above).'

The one in the picture is one of the three orb web spiders: Araneus diadematus and has a cross marking on its back. The eggs are stored in sacs that are placed at the centre of the web and can contain 100s of eggs. We tried to avoid breaking these as we climbed back up the hill.

My last walk of the season is on Monday 5 October and is a nut and berry collection walk. We are joining up with our partners at Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) to help collect seeds for the native tree nursery. Meet at Lochinver carpark next to the bus stop. 10am-3pm.

Hope to see you there.