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3 Mar 2020

Rebuilding bridges across our landscapes

A wooden bridge with a metal handrail on one side spans a rushing river in a Highland woodland.
Glen Elchaig bridge, prior to repair
As part of our five-year footpath repair plan, we’re taking a look at some of the most remote bridges that connect our landscapes.

Here at the National Trust for Scotland, we care for over 270 miles of footpath, opening up 76,000 hectares of glorious Scottish landscapes. Our footpaths allow visitors to experience some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery. From the mountains of Torridon and Kintail to the woodlands of Mar Lodge Estate and islands like Fair Isle and Iona, they open up access to a huge variety of landscapes and ecosystems.

A group of people walk along a dramatic mountain ridge, under a moody sky.
A spectacular ridge walk at Kintail

Over the next five years, we’re investing over £0.5 million into these footpath networks to bring them up to excellent condition. Without dedicated care and attention, our footpaths will become dangerously eroded and leave ugly scars on our beautiful landscape, leading to irreversible damage. By investing in these paths, not only do we make it easier for people to access these incredible places, but we also encourage them to stick to the path – preventing damage to the surrounding ecosystems.

Footpath repair can be long and arduous work, and accessing some of these areas is no mean feat! That’s why, particularly in the north of Scotland, it’s equally important to invest in our bridges that link up these different path networks. This year, with the generous support of the Brown Forbes Memorial Fund, we’re restoring the Glen Elchaig bridge, located on the ascent path to the Falls of Glomach and part of the popular Cape Wrath Trail.

The top of a waterfall, surrounded by a moorland mountain plateau, with mountains in the distance.
The top of the Falls of Glomach

To do this work, our footpath team has to airlift in materials by helicopter in order to overcome the rocky and dangerous terrain! Once the materials have arrived, our team will get to work to repair the damage that has occurred, mostly as a result of exposure to the elements. Bridges in these areas have to withstand Scotland’s notoriously unpredictable weather as well as the imprint of thousands of walking boots. Over time, this has caused the main beams of the Glen Elchaig bridge to become badly corroded, and it’s no longer safe to cross. This project will begin in the next few weeks so that the bridge is safe to access by spring.

Our footpath campaign would not be possible without the commitment of our fantastic supporters. There’s still time to donate to our appeal and help conserve the footpath networks – and the bridges that connect them – for the next generation of walkers.

The Footpath Fund

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