Field Notes: Repair work at Quinag
After a busy season, Quinag Conservation Officer Romany Garnett reports on the major path repair work taking place at one of Assynt's most popular hillwalking destinations.
There has been a heavier than usual footfall on our paths. In the aftermath of lockdown, it seems that more people than ever are heading to the hills. On Quinag there are a number of sections of the hill path requiring repair and upgrade work. A ‘stitch in time, saves nine’ applies very well to path work.
This work is now well underway, being undertaken by Julian Digby and team from Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts. They will tackle five sections of the lower part of the main stalkers path which runs from the car park west up towards the main summit of Sail Garbh. A total of about 600 metres of path will be significantly improved, through a mixture of upgrade and repair work, appropriate to the surrounding environment, current path condition and anticipated footfall.
For the first four sections a ‘light touch’ approach is possible, better defining the path line and keeping walkers away from areas of damage and erosion, which in due course will recover. The aim is to tie the path in with the surrounding landscape and vegetation, to guide walkers rather than presenting them with a formal constructed path that detracts from the hill’s special wild qualities
The fifth and final section is a potentially dangerous one which has eroded badly in recent years. There is a visible scar and dangerously slippery wet patches which will deteriorate quickly if left, and could cause injury, particularly in wet conditions, along with damage to surrounding habitat as walkers seek to avoid the worst sections.
The approach here is to construct 80 meters of stone pitching to safely take walkers through the wet flush incline, allowing the surrounding vegetation to consolidate and recover and ensuring the path remains robust and intact for many years to come.
Stone has been brought in from higher up on the hill, with a helicopter enabling bagged stone to be brought directly to the work site, along with aggerate to complete a robust and lasting build. The use of helicopters significantly reduces the damage that would be caused by transporting the material in a power barrow and the time taken to do this.
The Trust is extremely grateful for support from the following individuals and organisations towards this work: the Scottish Mountaineering Trust; the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership; and Trust Membership support through our Wild Ways Path Appeal.
- Find out more about our work at Quinag.
Photographs by Chris Puddephatt (top) and Rich Williams (above) .