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Footpath renewal project on Quinag is completed


By Caroline McMorran

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A footpath leading to the highest summit of one of the north-west Highland's most prominent mountains has been restored and upgraded.

Work on the final section of track leading to the top of Sàil Garbh, the most northerly of the three Corbetts that comprise the Quinag mountain range, near Lochinver, was completed last month.

The skilled path contractors have completed stonework and cross drains to help stabilise sections that were crumbling and loose. Picture: Chris Puddephatt
The skilled path contractors have completed stonework and cross drains to help stabilise sections that were crumbling and loose. Picture: Chris Puddephatt

The 808m high Sàil Garbh is regarded as the true summit of Quinag – its other two peaks are Sàil Ghorm and Spidean Coinich. There are stunning coastal views from all three peaks, west across the Minch to Lewis.

Wildland charity the John Muir Trust owns and manages Quinag, which covers 3699 hectares of the Assynt-Coigach National Scenic Area.

The mountain's accessibility and location on the North Coast 500 tourism route make it a particularly popular hill for walkers, and its footpath has seen an ever-increasing footfall in recent years.

An increase in visitors was noted through the summer of 2020 following the Covid-19 lockdown.

The John Muir Trust maintains the mountain’s extensive path network, and oversaw the restoration work which was undertaken by Inverness based ACT Heritage.

Funding came from the trust’s Wild Ways Path Appeal with a contribution from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership scheme.

Work on the steep and badly eroded path leading to the Sàil Garbh summit began last year and the final ascent – a 70m section of particularly badly eroded path – was completed in December.

The skilled path contractors completed stonework and cross drains to help stabilise sections that had deteriorated into crumbling and loose morasses.

The trust’s Quinag conservation officer Rosemary Garnett said 30 tonnes of stone had been airlifted from the opposite face of the mountain, which she described as a “mammoth task”.

She said: "We’re confident that the stone pitching in place now provides walkers with a much safer and more robust route to the summit."

Lower down the hill, a small team of John Muir Trust staff and volunteers have been working to repair and resurface the beginning section of the stalkers' path which had also become eroded and very muddy in places.

This path takes walkers to the mountain’s main saddle, Bealach a Chornaidh, which separates Spidean Coinich from the rest of Quinag.

“This isn’t the end of our work though,” said Ms Garnett. “We have plans in place to continue with a programme of repairs and upgrades as soon as funding allows."


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