One of the Scotland’s favourite mountains has topped a worldwide online poll to win £18,000 of funding towards a major path restoration project. Suilven in Sutherland secured more than 6,000 votes in two weeks to take 52 per cent of the vote in the Alpine category of the competition hosted by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), a not-for-profit organisation based in Switzerland which has 120 affiliated groups from every country in Europe.
The path project was nominated by Berghaus on behalf of the John Muir Trust and the Assynt Foundation, who will jointly carry out the restoration work as part of the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape Partnership scheme. Suilven beat off four other shortlisted projects from Rwanda, Italy, France and Spain.
Chris Goodman, footpath officer for the John Muir Trust, comments: “This is great news. We were up against strong competition but thousands of people in the Highlands and the wider outdoors community across the UK rallied behind Suilven, underlining just how popular this hill is.
“We’d like to thank Berghaus for nominating Suilven, as well as others who have helped with this campaign. Alongside other funding, this windfall will allow us to get off to flying start next year. The Trust still needs around £50,000 to carry out a full restoration of the footpath that will endure for decades to come.”
Richard Leedham, Berghaus brand president, adds: “This is excellent news. 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.”
Brendan O’Hanrahan from the Assynt Foundation comments: “The Foundation is delighted that the importance of improving the access to this well-loved mountain has been recognised in this way. That this comes from an international audience is a tribute to the success of the partnership approach embodied by the CALL Partnership.
“Suilven itself, bearing its hybrid Norse-Gaelic ‘Pillar-Mountain’ name, symbolises the rich and diverse cultural history of our area, as well as often serving as the visual standard-bearer for our world-class landscape.
“The Foundation, as a community-owned estate after a buyout 10 years ago, has always considered the stewardship of this breathtaking expanse of mountain and bog as one of its highest priorities – for both local and visitor alike.”
Richard Williams from the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape Partnership, which includes the Assynt Foundation and the John Muir Trust, adds: “Suilven is an iconic local landmark and a major draw for visitors and locals alike.
“For the Assynt Foundation to have this opportunity is fantastic and a great testament to the benefits of partnership working. This sort of project just isn’t possible without a huge investment of time and expertise and we’re grateful to all involved in helping develop the project, and of course to all those who voted for it!”