Striking photos posted by the Highland Council show the condition of sections of the West Highland Way around Kinlochleven before and after trail repair work.
Whereas previous years we have seen trail sabotage being the biggest news in terms of rights of way usage and mountain bikers, 2018 looks like being the year of controversial trail repairs/sanitisation (delete as your opinion dictates).
We’ve had riders asking whether widespread stone pitching resurface work ruining Lake District trails, and we’ve had other bike access bodies proclaiming that it’s time to act before Peak District’s Rushup Edge trail is lost forever.
Now it looks like Scotland is next in the spotlight…
The Highland Council
The Highland Council: “A section of the West Highland Way, on the old Military Road south of Kinlochleven has recently been improved. What was a long, rough and tiring part of the Way, that was eroding and becoming indistinct is now clear and smoother with better drainage. This is the first phase of improvements from the north side of the infamous Devils Staircase to where the old Military Road meets the hydro track to the Blackwater Reservoir.
“The West Highland Way is Scotland’s most popular long distance path with over 35,000 people walking the whole length last year. It starts at Milngavie, outside Glasgow, passes through Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, over Rannoch Moor, into Glen Coe and ends up in Fort William. Survey figures in 2012 estimated that the West Highland Way brings in nearly £16Million each year to businesses along its route. There are numerous events and challenges every year to complete the route of 96 miles (154Km) leading to this downhill section of the route becoming eroded and with damage to cross drains and ditches causing water to get onto the path and wash away surfacing.
“The Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage have part-funded the project, costing £40,000 for this phase, with a second phase due to start in the autumn at a similar cost. The Highland Council appointed experienced mountain path builders Highland Conservation Limited to carry out the work throughout May and June. By using locally sourced stone material from under the vegetation, which is then carefully placed back, the construction is both sensitive to the local environment and prevents bringing in quarried material by helicopter at greater cost and CO2 emissions.
“Senior Long Distance Route Officer, Jock MacGillivray said: ‘I am very pleased with what the contractors have done. This type of work was done until very recently by hand and the machine operators have shown great skill and awareness of their environment.’
“This improved section should be a welcome relief to walkers on what is usually their forth or fifth day of the Way being able to easily see the route and not stumble over washed out cobbles or follow indistinct lines on bedrock.
“‘Chair of the Lochaber Committee, Cllr Andrew Baxter said: “Lochaber is very much a year-round holiday destination with many visitors opting to explore by foot so it is great news that these improvement works that have been completed will enhance their experience. This is a very popular route with a lot of foot traffic on the path so I’d like to thank the Council’s Long Distance Routes team & Highland Conservation Limited for their work in making sure the access is maintained and the path can continue to be enjoyed by visitors and locals.'”