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nevis SUMMER JOURNAL 2019 | ISSUE 7

BEN         GLEN           PROJECTS           PEOPLE           VOLUNTEERING


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www.nevispartnership.co.uk/sponsor-a-tree

Front cover – Iona Skyring


SUMMER JOURNAL 2019

Leave no trace - or waste! Iona Skyring Summer is coming to an end and its footprint has left a mark in the Nevis area. Although awareness of waste pollution has increased in the last 5 years, there are still large issues with litter around Ben and Glen Nevis. One of the biggest issues noticed by our staff, volunteers, and partners, are wet wipes. Wet wipes are a popular accessory on any trip in the outdoors, providing an easy way to keep clean while you're on the move. But these single use items contain plastic and do not breakdown easily, causing micro-plastics to flow into our waterways, and causing large scale blockages in sewers. We find these wipes all around the Glen, having been washed down the hills after any heavy rain. Another hot topic currently is banana skins. This issue has received a lot of press attention recently after the Real 3 Peaks Challenge group took nearly 8kgs of banana skins off the summit of the Ben a few weeks ago. Many people believe that as bananas and other fruit peels are vegetable matter, they will just decompose, so it's not an issue to just throw them away while you are out on the hill. However, due to the climatic conditions on Ben Nevis and many other mountains, these fruit remains can take over 2 years to degrade. This can be disruptive to the environment and the wildlife which inhabit the area. So when you are thinking about your next day out or a trip away in the outdoors, please consider your footprint and take all your waste away with you.


Explore the Glen by Bike! In 2018, approximately 450,000 people visited Glen Nevis,

As well as providing secure and sheltered facilities for

and many of them will have driven up the Glen in their

bikes in the Glen, the project will also be running guided

car. On busy summer days the narrow road up the Glen is

electric bike rides and E bike repair workshops. We will be

clogged with vehicles, the carparks are overflowing, and

working with Nevis Cycles and Offbeat Bikes to deliver

the road verges are destroyed, not to mention the toxic

these, and with Lochaber E Bikes who are based in Glen

fumes spewing everywhere.

Nevis near the caravan park.

But it doesn’t have to be like this! Take some time to soak

The mountainous terrain may put some people off bike

up the stunning scenery and enjoy a bike ride in Glen Nevis

riding, but it really shouldn’t. The steeper tracks and paths

instead.

in the Glen can be easily conquered with the help of assisted pedalling on an E bike. A major part of the

Soon it will be a lot easier to take your bike up the Glen,

project is to introduce the benefits of assisted cycling with

with Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) having recently

free guided E bike rides. And if you think an E bike might

received funding from Cycling Scotland to improve the

be the way to go, LEG has also received funding from the

bike infrastructure in Glen Nevis and introduce people to

Energy Savings Trust for an E bike, which will be available

the joys of electric bikes. Over the next few months, LEG

to loan for a few days just to make sure. This is a really

will be working with Nevis Landscape Partnership, Forest

exciting project and we are looking forward to improving

and Land Scotland, and the John Muir Trust to install a bike

the cycling infrastructure in Glen Nevis to encourage

shelter at the Lower Falls carpark, and bike racks in the

people to use their bikes, and to introduce people to the

other Glen carparks.

joys of E bike riding. Keep an eye on the LEG website for updates about the project.


To help people get out of their cars and on to a bike, LEG also runs the Fort William Bike Kitchen which is funded by Paths for All and the Climate Challenge Fund. This programme has two main components, a scheme where old bikes donated by the residents of Lochaber are refurbished and rehomed with the help of a bike repair volunteer team, and the fix your own bike workshops where you can learn about basic bike maintenance, free of charge. The first year of the project in 2018 was a great success, seeing 34 bikes going to new homes. One of those new owners was Iona of the NLP who was in great need of some two-wheeled transport when she first moved to Fort William last summer, and was very happy with the end product. The bike repair workshops are also very popular and will be continuing through to March 2020. The next series of bike repair workshops will be held at An Drochaid on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 pm in August. To book on any of the workshops, please email kate@lochaberenviro.org.uk

Cycling makes so much sense; it is good for your health and wellbeing, and it’s good for the environment too. So dust off your bike or join a guided E bike ride, and in the summer traffic chaos, you can wave as you effortlessly wiz past the queued-up cars going nowhere.

Kate Willis


The Nevis Fund - A Call To Action Iona Skyring

The area of Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis receives no statutory Government funding yet is frequented by over 450,000 people per year. We are lucky to have free access to this incredible landscape to enjoy the outdoors and live a healthier lifestyle, but where does the money come from to improve visitor facilities, maintain the paths, and plant trees so that this landscape stays beautiful and use-able? Well there isn’t a clear answer or solution. Currently, the work that takes place in the Nevis area is reliant on donations or grant funding applications which local charities bid for, which is not sustainable in the long term.

Together we made a successful bid for grant funding from VisitScotland and the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Fund. This is a very positive step for the

Recently we’ve been working on a brand new path project between Paddy’s Bridge and Steall Falls which will make up one part of the Glen Nevis Heritage Trail. There are more parts of the trail that need work, but eventually it will make up a full walkable circle around the Glen. Our path

Nevis Landscape Partnership and the local community and will be a great asset to Glen Nevis. While this funding provides the resources necessary for improvement of visitor facilities in the Glen, the NLP is still working hard to secure more income to continue to do more great things.

officer Dougie has already noted increased footfall on the new path. This project is being funded by the Scottish Mountaineering Trust but to complete the work needed on the rest of the trail, more funding will need to be secured.

The launch of the Nevis Fund is a major landmark – bringing together the values, ambitions, and resources of four orgainsations operating together in the Nevis area: Nevis Landscape Partnership, Friends of Nevis, John Muir

Our next project focusses on improvement of visitor facilities at the Lower Falls in Glen Nevis and has come about from collaboration between the Nevis Landscape Partnership and the local community.

Trust, and Highlife Highland. Visitors and corporate supporters will donate to the fund to support footpath work, biodiversity monitoring, visitor facilities, and volunteering opportunities.


We’re developing the ways individuals can support the

You will also receive a logo to use on your site to show

Nevis Fund – at the moment it’s the contactless device at

you’re an ethical operator in the Nevis area, supporting the

the visitor centre or by signing up to Nevis at Night. Watch

work on the ground; material to share with your

out for new developments coming soon, including the

clients/customers such as Ben Nevis safety leaflets and

launch of our new Nevis Fund website.

the quarterly Nevis Journal.

Businesses can also support the Nevis Fund in a variety of

This is a call to action: Whether you are an individual or a

ways - we recognise that every business is different, and

business, whether this is your home town or a holiday

we're keen to work with you to find a way to work

destination - How can you support Nevis?

together. Some of the ways your business can help are: host a donation station, a visitor giving box or contactless

The Nevis Fund website will be launched soon, but if you

giving device; make a regular annual donation and choose

would like to find out more about how you or your business

a donation amount to suit your business, or donate a

can SUPPORT Nevis, please email

percentage revenue so for example

£1 on every booking,

info@nevispartnership.co.uk

or an amount on on every product sold.

All businesses who are Nevis supporters will receive an invitation to a ‘Support Nevis day’ where you and your colleagues can make a difference by getting involved in footpath or conservation activity to help us maintain and conserve the Nevis area.

Photos Above - Dan Timmis Below - Alex Gillespie


Paddy's Bridge to Steall Falls Dougie Sinclair

There has been a lot of focus over the last 5 years on the well-known and used paths in the Glen like the Ben Nevis mountain path and the All Abilities path, but there are several others that are also in need of attention! One such route is further up the Glen from Paddy’s Bridge along the south side of the River Nevis and over to Steall Falls. We have recently received funding from the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and Friends of Nevis to upgrade this path which will provide another excellent low-level path and poor weather option in the area. By crossing the wire rope bridge a new circular route can be made, returning through the stunning gorge. It would also provide an alternative route into the Steall Meadows area and access to the Mamore Hills and the popular “Ring of Steall “ walk without either having to cross the wire rope bridge which can be an obstacle for some people, or fording the River Nevis if the water level allows. At the end of a long day in poor conditions this could be a very welcome alternative to the crossing of the Nevis by either route, making their walk much safer. Finally it would maintain access to Steall and the Mamores in the event of a land slip in Steall Gorge of which there have been several in recent years.

Map from 1843 indicating the track heading over to Steall.

This project also brings environmental benefits by defining a line through the boggy areas, stopping the increasing erosion of path braiding, and allows the peatland areas to recover, although some intervention may help this process. Further, it would also provide the opportunity to remove large sections of redundant, rusting metal fencing and wire fencing from the local environment, providing safer and better access for people and wildlife. At one time this was a very well-built path and certainly suitable for ponies over the steeper section to Steall, with carts on the lower route to the now ruined sheiling at Blar Ban. Much of this lower, flatter section has been lost in the bog and the chosen footpath is now following the riverbank. This is a very pleasant natural path winding through the woods and will not require any major work. There is still work needed to improve some boggy sections which the National Trust for Scotland Thistle Camp and our own TVRs have made a good start on, but it will remain an occasionally wet path for the slightly more adventurous. At the end of the flat section, nearer the entrance to the gorge, the track starts to slant up the hill. This section was hidden under the line of an old deer fence, now removed, and the construction of the path starts to become apparent.


It was a well made substantial construction but due to the fence line, years of land slippage and vegetation growth it has gradually disappeared. The route is now obvious as far as the first of many switch backs as the path heads up the hill. It is at this first switch back that walkers have mistakenly carried on heading for the gorge and into unpleasant, steep and potentially dangerous ground. Initially we may put a sign here to make sure the correct route is followed. The first contract, to be issued in August, will make these switch backs more obvious so that the walker will be in no doubt as to the direction to take. We will add drainage features to help shed the water and other minor construction of stone steps on a few steeper sections. On reaching the crest the view is superb looking down to Steall meadows and the falls with distant views to Binnien Beag. It is fascinating to work out the original route, following some rocky slabs and steppingstones across wet sections that were laid over a hundred years ago, and picking up the winding path down to the river. The original route swings back to where the old bridge was at the entrance to the gorge (now gone bar a few metal posts) but the new route will carry on towards the wire bridge further upstream and on to the falls.

In the future perhaps a replacement bridge would be good. This would remove the obstacle to many people of the wire bridge and create a very enjoyable circular route at the head of the Glen. If this section is completed it would be a major step towards the overall aim of creating the Glen Nevis Heritage Trail, an off road route joining the low level footpaths in the Glen from the curling ponds to Steall Falls and back to the curling ponds. So far we have only a small amount of funding for this path, but once the route is more established we will hopefully gain more to complete the project. Our work means that we will secure the future sustainability of Ben and Glen Nevis - enhancing everyone’s experience in the Glen. It would be fascinating to know more of the history of this route, or any of the old ways in the Glen, so if anyone has any information or even photographs we would love to hear from you. Please email info@nevispartnership.co.uk if you have anything to share!

Photos clockwise from left - Dougie Sinclair, Katie Dougan, Susan Nicol, Alex Gillespie


Case Studies in Adventure Tourism Iona Skyring & Clara Spini

We can draw many similarities between Scotland and Iceland across a range of topics including geography, climate, industry, and most significantly, tourism.

From the week's experiences, it is possible to identify ideas, issues, and solutions that can be applied to the area around Ben and Glen Nevis. Although with Scottish Outdoor Access rights, there is no direct cost for the consumer to walk up

On 8th July 2019, three participants representing Scotland

Ben Nevis or visit any other areas in the Glen. However when

and Finland travelled to Höfn, Iceland for the sixth pilot

these visitors come, they will spend money in other places

module testing for the Erasmus+ Adventure Tourism

such as accommodations, supermarkets, restaurants and

Vocational Education (Advent) project. The Advent project

cafes, shops, petrol stations, and many other businesses.

has been running since September 2017 with the direct aim

This is where we can link the importance of the work carried

to strengthen the skill base of young people and adults

out by the Nevis Landscape Partnership to the

working in the adventure tourism sector and its associated

commodification of the Nevis area and its outward benefits

industries such as environmental tourism. The project is

to the business community. The best example of this is that

made up of eight working partners across Scotland, Iceland

without the maintenance of the paths, we would not be

and Finland. The participants from Scotland were myself

seeing as high visitor numbers as we are, therefore having

and Clara Spini, representing the Nevis Landscape

an impact on the economic growth of the businesses

Partnership and the Centre for Recreation and Tourism

around the Nevis and Fort William area. Hulda, Vésteinn,

Research at West Highland College UHI. The sixth module

and Óskar all highlighted how the Glacier has formed a part

pilot testing was centred around "localism, commodification

of their business and the importance of education on its

and gentrification" in the context of adventure tourism.

environmental state is vital.

There are many great examples of how these concepts have been developed in the municipality of Hornafjörður –

The Vatnajökull National Park Rangers which operate in

specifically in Höfn, Hali, and the Heinabergslón glacier

Skaftafell, just over 130KM south-west of Höfn, run free

lagoon which were sites of the module field trips. These trips

guided walks each week on trails around the area. These

were lead by Hulda Hauksdóttir, Vésteinn Fjölnisson, and

guided walks have an educational purpose, aiming to

Óskar Arason.

highlight the important environmental issues in the area of the National Park, particularly the fast rate at which the

Clara is an Erasmus+ intern at the Centre for Recreation

Glacier is moving. These types of educational walks could

and Tourism Research, where she is writing her dissertation

work well in the Nevis area to provide visitors with

on the impacts of over-tourism on local communities.

information about how the area is managed and looked

‘Coming from an academic background, I’ve particularly

after. However, this requires staff resources which are not

appreciated the teaching method of the sixth pilot module

currently feasible for the Nevis Landscape Partnership or

of the ADVENT project. Discussions about "localism,

other organisations in the Nevis area but should be a

commodification and gentrification" were combined with

consideration for the future.

daily field trips to apply these theories in practical contexts. In Hali, the transformation of the sheep farm to a museum

A previous module for the ADVENT project held in Fort

sheds an interesting light on the history of the area,

William in April saw Icelandic, Finnish and local participants

representing a case of gentrification in tourism. The same

plant trees in Glen Nevis and learn about nature

was true for the village of Höfn, where some of its historical

conservation issues from Ruraidh. This reciprocal visit to

buildings have changed their purpose to adapt to the

Iceland to better understand local issues and

growing tourism industry. The kayak tour on Heinabergslón

commodification underlines the tremendous value of trans-

glacier lagoon was also highly educational because it

national learning, partnership building and sharing of

brings you face to face with the changes happening to the

experience.

glacier. I think it’s great for local guides to have the opportunity to sell a tourist product and at the same time

Photos - Þorsteinn Roy Jóhannsson, Hörður Þórhallsson, Iona

raise awareness about how nature is changing. 'I believe

Skyring & Clara Spini

this teaching method is more effective compared to academic traditional ones, and that this model should be replicated in other contexts as well.’


NEVIS AT NIGHT The Festival of the Elements 21st of September 2019

Light Up Ben Nevis with a walk led by qualified guides up Ben Nevis at night with poetry, music, and lights to enhance the beauty of the Nevis Landscape and help raise money for the Nevis Fund.

www.nevisatnight.com | hello@nevisatnight.com | 01397 772466

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Summer Journal 2019 - Issue 7  

Summer Journal 2019 - Issue 7