Restoration of Schiehallion Footpath

Scotland, UK

The John Muir Trust (JMT) is one of the Scotland’s leading guardians of wild land and wildlife, working to safeguard wild land and help wildlife and flora to prevail in wild places. It promotes the freedom and opportunity for people to enjoy wild places and inspires people to respect and conserve wild places through responsible action.
 

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The Project

As a prominent membership organisation it carries out a charitable role through the ownership and management of land and the promotion of education, activities and conservation.

The John Muir Award promotes awareness and responsibility for wild places across the UK celebrating the work, spirit and legacy of Dunbar born John Muir.

East Schiehallion in Perthshire (one of the Trust's owned lands) is climbed by over 20,000 people each year due to its ease of accessibility. A major project to construct a new footpath on a different and more sustainable line is currently underway, using locally quarried stone and encouraging walkers to stick to the main path, not straying onto areas where land regeneration is essential. General maintenance is carried out annually on the pathway to ensure that the constant heavy use does not lead to deterioration, and a programme to ensure natural regeneration of the old path was proposed. It is also intended to execute a survey to establish the progress of existing natural regeneration on key sections of the path particularly the upper section.

New updated interpretation (information) boards will be provided at the intersection of the start of the path and the car park giving new and returning walkers information about Schiehallion and the Trust.
 

The Update

Some of this work, particularly on the higher reaches of the path, was carried out by contractors, but a good deal of it was done by volunteer work parties. In 2007 two work parties carried out maintenance on the new path and work to encourage regeneration of the old path. In 2008 there were two further work parties, focusing on the maintenance of the path, and the regeneration of native habitats. Fences were also erected to control sheep grazing on the east of the mountain.

The success of this is being monitored closely and there are already signs of birch and willow scrub regeneration, as well as some rowan and pine in isolated patches of higher dry ground. This is also linked to a wider Biodiversity Project being carried out on all JMT properties to record accurately the status of a range of species and monitor the effect of land management practices.

Finally, a new information board has been set up to give visitors and walkers information about Schiehallion and its flora and fauna at the main car park access point at Braes of Foss. The Trust has also produced a detailed 18-page booklet about all aspects of the mountain.
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We are hugely grateful for the support of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, without whose support we could never have realised such an ambitious project.
Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage