What we’re doing
Quinag is an anglicisation of its Gaelic name, A’ Chuinneag (meaning the milk pail). It’s not a single mountain but a dramatic range of peaks. Sàil Gharbh is the rough heel, Sàil Ghorm the blue heel, and Spidean Coinich is the mossy peak. These are three of Scotland’s most northern Corbetts (hills over 2,500ft).
The Trust maintains the mountain path up Quinag. This enables access to the summits and their stunning views over the peaks and lochans of Sutherland, and beyond. Our skilled path team helps prevent landscape damage and erosion without being intrusive.
Many habitats on Quinag, particularly native woodland, have declined and disappeared. This is due to centuries of heather burning, overgrazing by sheep and a rise in deer numbers to unsustainable levels. We monitor habitats to see how the vegetation is responding to grazing impacts.
We want to restore deer populations to levels that the land can sustain. This is particularly important for saving the ancient Ardvar Woodlands on the north side of Quinag. Deer are an essential part of the ecosystem but their high numbers are preventing young trees from growing here.
The Ardvar Woodlands are the most northern remnant of native oak woodland in the British Isles. They are designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the highest level of protection under European law. Watch our film, Managing deer for nature, to find out more about this issue.
The best way to support our work on Quinag is to become a member of the John Muir Trust.
About the land
- Quinag is part of the ambitious Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape project. This aims to reconnect woodlands and other fragmented habitats which will allow missing species to return.
- Quinag also lies within the North West Highlands Geopark, Scotland’s first Geopark.
- The base of Quinag was formed of Lewisian Gneiss rock three billion years ago. It’s overlaid with Cambrian quartz – often containing evidence of the oldest life-forms found in north west Scotland – and sandstone.
- There’s a thriving population of water voles at Quinag, the subject of important study by Aberdeen University for the past 20 years. Other wildlife includes badger, fox, pine marten, blue hare, ring ouzel, ptarmigan and nesting birds such as greenshank and golden plover.
- Influenced by the wet Atlantic climate, Quinag has a particularly rich selection of mosses and liver worts.