Restoration project on iconic Sutherland mountain wins £18,000

suilven - Michael Dennis Stagg
Photo: Michael Dennis Stagg

The John Muir Trust have won £18,000 towards restoration work on Sutherland’s iconic Suilven from a European-wide funding scheme.

A joint John Muir Trust and the Assynt Foundation project, the Suilven path restoration acheme was nominated by outdoor clothing firm Berghaus for the latest round of European Outdoor Conservation Association funding.  Out of 92 applications from 58 countries, it was the only UK project shortlisted for the online vote.

Under the umbrella of the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape Partnership, the path restoration work will set out to restore an eroded 2.5km section of the route to conserve the mountain’s unique geological heritage, while maintaining public access to the remote mountain whose steady stream of visitors helps support tourism businesses in local communities. The total cost of the project is expected to be in the region of £200,000. The CALL Partnership are hopeful of receiving funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage and the John Muir Trust has pledged to raise a further £50,000 towards the project.

Richard Leedham of Berghaus said: “Berghaus nominated the Suilven path project because our team knows from first-hand experience about the importance of the work of the John Muir Trust, a charity we’ve been supporting for over a decade. We have seen, and participated in, path repair initiatives by the John Muir Trust and understand how they are undertaken in a way that is sensitive to their environment, so this project is one that resonates strongly with us.  We hope that the remaining funding is quickly secured and that the path restoration can go ahead soon.”

Among those backing the Suilven application was renowned mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, Berghaus’ non-executive chairman, who recalled fondly his own experiences of climbing the 731 metre high peak, calling his first climb of Suilven in 1952 as “the most magical walk I have ever known”.

Chris Bonington pictured with Suilven in the background in 1986
Chris Bonington pictured with Suilven in the background in 1986 Photo: Chris Bonington

He added: “There are so many amazing wild places that it is almost impossible to favour one over another, but Suilven does mean an awful lot to me.  It is magnificent from any aspect, rising up dramatically from the bedrock, and it is not easy to get to, with any trip there involving a good long walk in. Suilven is a very special place, in a wonderful setting.”