Trust employs local man to run two-year path project in south Skye

Local footpath expert to lead our Skye’s Wild Ways programme and help repair some of the island's best paths

Beinndeargairlift lr detail

The John Muir Trust has appointed experienced local contractor, Donald Mackenzie from Glenelg, to oversee a major project focusing on two key paths through the Strathaird peninsula in south west Skye.

The two-year programme of work and training , titled “Skye’s Wild Ways: Path Repairs and Conservation Skills” will focus on two key paths – from Sligachan to Coruisk , and the route across Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach in the Red Cuillin.

The project, which began in earnest in early September, will involve sensitive repairs to some of the more eroded sections of both paths to improve access to some of Skye’s most spectacular landscapes while minimising any impact on fragile habitats.

The work will allow the Trust to offer opportunities to local volunteers and college trainees to develop specialist path skills under the guidance of experienced professionals. Short and long term volunteering sessions will be made available, along with guided walks of the area.The Trust also plans to develop interpretation facilities to help visitors better understand the natural and cultural history of the area.

The work has been made possible thanks to a grant of £57,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), together with support from the Brown Forbes Memorial Fund, the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and the Kestrelman Trust.

Despite inclement weather so far, there has already been successful helicopter airlifts carrying 90 tonnes of stone to Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach and a further 60 tonnes to Druim Hain on the Sligachan route.

Chris Goodman, John Muir Trust Footpath Project Officer, said “This is really important work, helping to protect some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland and tackle the issue of erosion on popular access routes. It’s labour intensive work which means a boost for local employment.

It’s also expensive however – this kind of work can cost around £200 per metre, and with very little government funding available we’ve had to rely on support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other organisations, as well as on private donations. As well as helping us carry out this vital work will also provide a boost to the local community by providing a two-year job, contract work and training opportunities for local people.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Skills are vital for Scotland’s economy, not least in the fields of heritage, tourism and protecting the environment. By using National Lottery players’ money in this way, HLF will help to equip trainees with the skills needed to make a difference to their own lives as well as to contribute to the future prosperity of our country.”

Photograph shows a helicopter in early September, airlifting of 60 tonnes of stone to Druim Hain and 94 to Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach for our Skye's Wild Ways programme of  path repair work.