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17 Jun 2024

Skye's wool path update

An innovative solution to path building in a boggy area proves a success, one year on.

Kilmarie wool path in 2024

Last year, the Trust's Skye manager - and local crofter -John MacRae experimented with a new method of repairing a boggy path. Rather than using the usual plastic membrane to keep the gravel in place, he laid raw, unprocessed sheep wool on the bare ground.

A year on, we are pleased to report that it has been a huge success. It’s a win-win situation – using local resources, quarry materials and sheep wool, that have no other use.

Anyone who’s walked in Scotland in boggy conditions will testify that traditional path laying methods could be improved for the user experience. Floating paths and railway lines across Rannoch Moor, using birch logs as well as sheep wool, have proven that the technique works and holds up over time.

Other conservation organisations were inspired by the story and John has been asked to train their staff in his unusual technique. Despite concerns about chemicals used to treat the sheep, for ticks for example, remains in the wool, we’re confident that we can prove the chemicals are dormant by the time we use the wool for paths.

The local community would like to see more such paths and we have plans afoot! John has been gathering wool for several years now, so we have plenty for the next planned route; 300 fleeces are required for a 100m stretch of path on boggy ground.

While the fleeces are free - and we welcome volunteers to help us lay paths - we still need to raise funds for the digger and aggregate required to complete the work. Please consider donating.

Moss - David Lintern

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