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Mountains for People Project: Seasonal Updates

Spring 2013 click to view

The Mountains for People project finishes at the end of March, after a highly successful four years spent renovating and conserving some of the highest-level routes in the Trust’s care in Glencoe, Torridon and on Arran. All work is now complete, and we are now progressing a plan for long-term maintenance to ensure that these, and all the other Trust’s footpaths, are cared for well into the future.

The project team like to thank all funders, donors, path contractors, volunteers and supporters of both this, and the Trust’s previous capital footpath restoration projects, for your help. Your enthusiastic support has been invaluable, and we simply couldn’t have done it without you!

Project Manager Bob Brown adds: "The Footpath Fund has played a vital part in providing match-funding for capital projects such as MFP, effectively quadrupling every pound donated. Now, the Fund will be instrumental in allowing us to provide essential aftercare for all the work carried out so far, ensuring that the mountains are looked after for future generations to enjoy."

Have a great 2013 season on the hills!

Autumn-Winter 2012 click to view

The final stone is levered
into place on Mullach an
Rathain Torridon
autumn 2012
The Mountains for People project is now on its final few pieces of capital-funded path work, before all the planned work is completed and the project comes to an end. Just as well there’s not too much left to do, with winter already making an appearance on the hills and December on the horizon!

On Arran's, Three Beinns route, landscaping on the section that had been too dry earlier in the summer was finally carried out when the rain came. The final phase was then worked on over October and November, but due to a lack of suitable on-site material and the team being obliged by the onset of bad weather to work further down the hill, the contract has been extended into December. Work will therefore continue on this path for as long as is possible until the end of 2012.

The last remaining work in Glencoe is on the Coire nan Lochan route, where little remains to be done bar some minor adjustments and additional drainage, which should be completed, weather permitting, by February 2013.

With all planned contract work on Torridon completed some months ago, there has been enough time and money left over to carry out a little more work on the Mullach an Rathain path. This has the double benefit of tying together some of the bigger sections of work and consolidating some of the smaller sections: the work was carried out in the autumn and was completed in mid-November.

All that remains to be done between now and the end of the project in spring 2013 is to revise and publish the path audits drawn up back in 2008, before Mountains for People started, and continue to work with senior management in the Trust to ensure that all the path repairs undertaken by both this and the previous path project are properly maintained. Our last seasonal update will be posted just before Easter 2013, and will give more details of how this will be achieved. Until then, have a great Christmas and New Year and, as ever, enjoy the hills!

Summer 2012 click to view

Working at Lairig Gartain,
This is our final summer for the Mountains for People project, and work has been continuing apace, in spite of rain stopping play for others. While the washout summer weather has been bad news for many, we have actually been waiting for rain on one of our hill properties – believe it or not!

On Arran, all planned renovations on Cir Mhor are now finished. The work was technically demanding here and carried out to a very high standard: a great demonstration the Arran contract team’s skills. It may be possible to do some further work on the descent line, at the back of the mountain, before the project ends. Meanwhile, on the Three Beinns route, work started in March was completed by the end of May. This is a large, spread-out site, so work was carried out in sections. There is still a bit of snagging to do, but – strange as it is to say – the ground has been too dry for re-landscaping over the spring and early part of the summer. This will undoubtedly have changed by the time the next seasonal update is written!

It's great to be able to report that all the planned contract work for Torridon has now been completed, with minor adjustments carried out to last year’s path-work on Sgurr Mhor, and high-quality renovations completed on Mullach an Rathain by the end of April. Thanks to both contract teams for their determination and hard work, as it was often more than unusually cold in Torridon for the time of year.

Lingering ice-cover meant that work in Glencoe got off to a slower start than elsewhere, however the fine-tuning of repairs to the Lairig Gartain path is now complete. Work is currently taking place on the Coire nan Lochan route, where we are taking an intuitive approach to the requirements of the terrain, working closely with the team to determine the best solution. The work is progressing well and is on course to complete by the end of August.

Plans are also progressing for the maintenance and aftercare of the paths following the conclusion of the project in April 2013. There’ll be more on this in the next bulletin, due in the autumn.

Also, a bit of advance notice of the next Arran Mountain Festival, which is not until 17 – 20 May 2013, but which is worth making a note of now! More details on the web at www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk.

Contact the Mountains for People Project at mfp@nts.org.uk.

Spring 2012 click to view

Pathworker Big Paul
on Mullach an Rathain
in Torridon March 2012
We're now well into the fourth and final year of the Mountains for People project: hard to believe it's nearly complete! We were lucky this year, with a benign winter which allowed work to carry on as far as December and begin again as early as February – something that hasn't happened for the last two years…

On Arran, the finishing touches to renovations carried out on the Cir Mhor path were completed in late February. This involved minor improvements to the water drainage and re-routing a small section of the path. Meanwhile, the first phase of work is being cued up on the Three Beinns route, and will be starting soon.

A lot has been happening in Torridon this spring, where work began in earnest on the Mullach an Rathain path, swiftly followed by a return visit to Sgurr Mhor, to review and, if required, improve upon the renovations carried out last summer. There is also a separate project running to replace the old bridge across the Allt a'Bhealaich burn on Beinn Alligin, and to repair the top section of the Tom na Gruigaich path. This work is part of a separate project run by the Trust and made possible thanks to the generosity of friends and family of the late Jim Cox.

This just leaves Glencoe as the only area where winter conditions have delayed the project work until spring is fully here. The final phases of both the Lairig Gartain and the Coire nan Lochan path repairs are ready to begin as soon as the weather allows.

We're also starting to think ahead, to when Mountains for People finishes in the spring of 2013, and make plans for the continued aftercare of the all the paths renovated by the project and also all footpaths in the Trust's care. Discussions are underway, and the intention is to produce an agreed plan for the long-term maintenance of all our footpaths by this time next year.

So we're not slowing down, just because we're coming to the final stretch! As ever, keep an eye out for us out and about on the hills this season and come and say Hello. The next update will be in July – if you want to get in touch or send us photos of your visits to the routes we're working on, please email us at mfp@nts.org.uk.

Winter 2011 click to view

Emptying helibags at
Cir Mhor Arran
November 2011
The autumn-winter period has been fairly quiet, but that's not to say that there hasn't been significant progress made!

As mentioned last season, work on the top section of the Coire Altruim path in Glencoe is now complete and we were hoping to do likewise with the lower part. So it's great to be able to report that this work was carried out in October, bringing our renovation work on this route to a successful end.

On Torridon, work has now finished on the Sgurr Mhor path for the season, but will be revisited next year to see if further improvements are needed.

The majority of our work over the late autumn period has been on the Cir Mhor route on Arran. The contract team put in a great deal of work to complete the vast majority of repairs on the path before winter set in at the end of November, and ensured that all the stone flown onto the site was in place on the route and the helicopter bags removed from the hill before work ended for the season. There may be some minor modifications to the path next year, otherwise this is another very successful piece of work for the project.

Our thanks are due to our dedicated contract teams, who have worked with skill, determination and good humour through often trying times this year. Next year will see the start of work on Mullach an Rathain in Torridon, Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe and the Three Beinns on Arran, so let's hope for an early spring!

The Trust's Sole Trading fund changed its name over the autumn and is now known as The Footpath Fund. Its remit remains the same, however: to support the conservation and repair work of some of the most remote and fragile upland routes in Scotland.

A big thank-you to everyone who took the trouble to contact us after the publication of this year's "Footprints" newsletter: your interest and support for the project is heartening and much appreciated.

The next seasonal update will be in April 2012. Until then, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to our funders, and to all hillwalkers and enthusiasts for the beautiful Scottish mountains that we're working together to protect.

Summer-Autumn 2011 click to view

Welcome to Spring
in Torridon
The weather this summer finally settled down to allow for some good concentrated spells of work on the upland paths.

In Glencoe, work on the top section of the Coire Altruim path is now complete. It would be good to also carry out work on the final section of this path, lower down, so that the entire Altruim path can be completed.

Then we'll turn our attention to the remaining section of the Coire nan Lochan route, which will mean that this entire path has also been renovated.

We had mixed fortunes using the tents in Torridon to accommodate the contractors working on the Sgurr Mhor path. The area was hit by some of the worst weather in spring, just as the tents were flown into position on the hill, with hill-fires in the nearby area, followed by severe gales, driving rain and – in May – snow! This created an extremely challenging working environment, but our contractors are a hardy lot, and they battled on, even though eventually even the Everest-standard tents had to be abandoned in favour of accommodation in the village and a lengthy walk-in each day. The team worked tirelessly in the face of sometimes apparently impossible odds, and the result is excellent. A very subtle yet robust line now snakes from the fault-line to the summit ridge and the path below the fault has been narrowed to reduce both visual scarring and the potential for further erosion by the weather.

Work on Arran has been fairly quiet over the summer, although it is now getting underway with repairs to the Cir Mhor route and minor renovations to the Coire Lan path. The Three Beinns contract will be let this summer and worked during the coming autumn and spring 2012.

The Arran Mountain Festival takes place again this year, from Friday 16 – Monday 19 September: a great opportunity to explore the island's breathtaking mountains, including Cir Mhor and the Three Beinns, with qualified local guides. For more details, see the festival's website at www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk and look out for our project at work, too!

This year's Footprints newsletter will soon be available for download on the website. Its publication coincides with a change of name for the Trust's Sole Trading Fund. Now known as the Footpath Fund, it continues to support our vital conservation work on some of Scotland's most beautiful, and fragile, mountains.

The next seasonal update will be in December 2011.

Spring-Summer 2011 click to view

Preparing for the Sgurr
Mhor work Torridon early
May 2011
The early arrival of spring was appreciated more than usual this year, as it melted the last of the snow and ice and allowed us to make up for time lost during the harsh winter.

Work began in early April on the Coire Altruim path in Glencoe with a helicopter airlift of stone sourced from the lower slopes of Lairig Gartain to the contract site. Work on the path began in earnest in the last week of April and is expected to continue until August.

Some subtle additions were also made in February to complete last year's renovation work on the Lairig Gartain path.

In Torridon, this year's major task is to repair the badly-eroded high-altitude path on Sgurr Mhor. As it takes nearly three hours to walk to the site, the contractor team have been living on the hill while work takes place. It had originally been intended to use the accommodation cabin that has sheltered contractors for the past few years, but the damage it sustained in storm-force winds on Arran last autumn proved too much for it. So, this time round, high-altitude expedition tents are being used as living and sleeping quarters. Look out for them on the hill.

The work is proceeding to schedule, with our resilient contractors working on, in spite of the hill fires that were raging nearby at the beginning of May, followed later that month by constant gale-force winds, and even snow!

Meanwhile, on Arran, apart from some emergency repairs on the Glen Rosa path at the tail-end of winter, work is not due to begin until late June or early July, starting with Cir Mhor. Further, minor work is also planned later in the summer for Coire Lan.

The project has benefited once again this year from the recent Cadbury's Easter Egg Hunt, with £10,000 going to the Footpath Fund. And the use of tented accommodation in Torridon was the subject of a feature on BBC1's 'Reporting Scotland' programme in May.

Work continues apace from now until hopefully well into the autumn. Let's hope for a cracking summer and maybe see you on the hills!

The next seasonal update will be in September 2011.

Contact the project team at mfp@nts.org.uk if you have any questions, comments or photos of your visits to the mountain paths, especially the ones we're renovating.

Winter 2010/2011 click to view
It won't come as a surprise that the extreme weather that began in the last week of November called an early and abrupt halt to our work – especially in Glencoe! Prior to that, work on the Coire nan Lochan path was completed, although the weather meant it took two attempts to fly in the required stone by helicopter.

Work is delayed, possibly until spring, on the higher-level route of Coire Altruim, but January's thaw has allowed some renovations to go ahead on the Lairig Gartain path.

Work continued well into November on Arran, where the contract team managed to almost complete repairs to the Cir Mhor path – in spite of storm-force winds blowing part of the roof off their RAS (Remote Accommodation) cabin! The RAS has since been dismantled and returned to its base at Mar Lodge Estate for repairs.

Renovations of the path on North Goatfell Ridge were completed well before the onset of winter, and work on Coire Lan is almost complete, with some minor adjustments scheduled for the coming year.

The high-altitude path on Sgurr Mhor is next in line for renovation at Torridon, with work due to begin this spring.

In January we received a donation of £4300 from HF Holidays, who run walking holidays in the Lochaber area every year. We are very grateful for their generous donation to our Footpath fund which supports upland path repair work in Glencoe as well as Torridon and Arran. If you would like to contribute, please click the ‘make a donation' button below.

The next seasonal update will be in May 2011. Check back then for news of how the project work is progressing, or drop us a line at mfp@nts.org.uk if you have any questions in the meantime.