Suilven in race to win £18k in Euro-wide online poll
Community-owned Assynt mountain only UK project shortlisted for European outdoor conservation award
A major path-repair project on one of Scotland’s most dramatic mountains is in the running for an £18,000 prize in an online poll organised by European Outdoor Conservation Association - EOCA - (a not-for-profit environmental outdoor charity with over 120 national affiliates across the continent).
The Suilven path restoration project was nominated in EOCA's Alpine category (for projects located at high altitude) by the outdoor retailer, Berghaus. The online poll is now open to the public and will continue until noon on Monday 19 October. Suilven faces competition from four other nominees in Italy, Spain, France and Rwanda.
The mountain is famed for its distinctive shape and spectacular summit views over land and sea. It has been widely celebrated in poetry, music and song by such diverse artists as the late ‘Bard of Assynt’, Norman McCaig, the Gaelic rock band Runrig and the classical music composer, Giles Lamb. Its ancient geological features are recognised within Scotland’s first European Geopark.
The path restoration work, which is expected to cost in the region of £200,000, will be carried out by the John Muir Trust and the Assynt Foundation, under the umbrella of the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) Partnership. It will set out to restore an eroded 2.5km section of the route to conserve the mountain’s unique geological heritage, while maintaining public access to a remote mountain whose steady stream of visitors helps support tourism businesses in the local communities scattered across Assynt.
Stewart Hill, Chair of the Assynt Foundation said: "Suilven dominates the skyline of the Assynt landscape. One German visitor told us that ‘this is the scenery of the soul’ – a sentiment that draws people from all over the Europe to climb the mountain. It may restore the soul, but the heavy footfall takes its toll of the path. By restoring the path we shall create a heritage for the future that will enable others to come and enjoy this magnificent mountain."
David Gibson, Chief Officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland added: “Suilven is a distinctive mountain when viewed from any direction. It’s treasured by mountaineers and elicits superlatives from those who are not inclined to walk the many miles to its base and climb to the main Caisteal Liath, the highest point on the mountain. I urge everyone who loves Scotland’s mountains to cast a vote for Suilven.”
Richard Leedham, brand president of Berghaus, said: “Berghaus is a long-time supporter of the John Muir Trust. Our staff have volunteered on the Trust’s path restoration projects in the past and we can really appreciate the importance of that work. Suilven is an iconic mountain – we’ve named at least two jackets after it over the years! So we were delighted to nominate this project for funding from EOCA and will be working hard to encourage the public to vote to support the Trust’s great work on Suilven.”
Photograph of Suilven: Iain Brownlie Roy