The weather gods were smiling today for our lower Ben Mountain Path maintenance work party! Volunteers Laura and Catriona joined Volunteer Co-ordinator Rory for the morning, clearing ditches, cross drains and removing litter on the first section of the Ben Nevis Mountain Path. As expected on a bank holiday weekend it was a busy day for the path with a fairly constant stream of walkers heading up and some early birds returning down. Its still lambing season on the hill and thankfully everyone passing us this morning with dogs had them on leads, we made a point of thanking them for taking heed of the signage. Sadly there have been some recent cases where dogs have been chasing sheep on the hill resulting in injury and death to ewes and leaving lambs without mothers.
There will be more pathwork parties to follow, having cleared the cross drains all the way to the top once this season we are starting over again! Our July work party is different however, tackling bracken in some of the planting exclosures where it is still shading the young trees. If you would like to get involved pop over to our events page to see what we have on offer and sign up!.
Summer is almost upon us although the weather seems to have shifted back to blustery April Showers! It has been a busy spring and both with volunteer activity and also the NQ Countryside Skills and Ranger Training Programme. The Mountain Path on Ben Nevis has had a complete run of path maintenance from Achintee up to the top drains around corners 3 & 4. This has been achieved by a mix of activity by Friends of Nevis Volunteers, a large group of Trainee Leaders for Iceland Conservation Volunteers and also several contracted days with ex NLP Path Officer Dougie Sinclair, paid for by Friends of Nevis. Having completed the first run its time to start again, if you would like to join in one of our volunteer work parties head over to the volunteer sign up page below:
The Countryside Skills and Ranger Training students also spent a number of days reinstating the surface of the all ability path in Glen Nevis, using Aco Ground Guard to secure the stone. Friends of Nevis have generously supported the reinstatement work by purchasing the Aco Groundguard
At the end of April Friends of Nevis volunteers held their annual Spring Litter Pick and curling pond clear up, on this occasion joined by Patrick Nevis, our member and supporter based in California. The lower Glen was given a thorough clear up and in addition the first section of the Ben Nevis Mountain path was also cleared
For the third year running Nevis Landscape Partnership have been successful in applying for funding to NatureScot's Better Places Fund, and will be operating a seasonal Nevis Ranger team through until the end of October. This time the application was in collaboration with Jahama Highland Estates. The rangers will be helping out on occasion on Friends of Nevis volunteer events and engagement events and are due to start in early June so look out for them in the Glen. Also scheduled for June will be the re-opening of the redesigned and upgraded Lower Falls car park, this time complete with two toilet cubicles.
Work Parties are planned for each month including path work parties, bracken bashing in our Future Forests plantations and also some removal of invasive species. Our popular Monday Morning Litter Picks will also be returning in July, a chance to have a relaxing morning walk in the lower Glen and giving it a clean up. In July we are also scheduling a Herbal Walk and Forage with Clare Holohan from West Highland Herbal and in September a Fungi Foray with Field Mycologist Liz Holden For all opportunities pop over to our events page below:
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Its 2022 and the first of the years events are now on the website: a drop in Bird Ringing session on Saturday January 15th run by John Owen and Kirsty Ross at Glen Nevis Visitor Centre and a Volunteer Path Work Party on Wednesday February 16th The February work party will be part of the Fort William Mountain Film Festival fringe event programme.
Dates and events for the rest of 2022 will appear shortly but see the note below about upcoming changes to event registration.
Changes to event registration in 2022
You might have noticed that when registering for an event of the Friends of Nevis website you are taken to the Nevis Landscape Partnership events page: this arrangement was set up during the Nevis Landscape Partnership programme because Friends of Nevis acted as the volunteer and engagement partner for that programme.
Nevis Landscape Partnership are currently in the midst of upgrading and changing their website and will be using Eventbrite to manage their events registration: this will be the same for Friends of Nevis events.
The changes should take effect in the next few weeks, hopefully the transition will be smooth and the only difference will be that sign ups and registration will take place via Eventbrite.
Firstly, a huge thankyou to all the supporters who have ensured that Friends of Nevis continued to exist and operate through 2021 despite the restrictions and challenges that a second year of Covid has continued to throw at us. This includes volunteers who have come along on work parties, and of course that other group of volunteers, the Chair and Trustees, who keep things running smoothly in the background (and often to be seen at work parties them selves!) In addition our signed up members continued to support the Friends and other individuals and organisations have donated in support of our work. Sadly this year two of our members passed away, Libby Williamson and Andy Davidson. Libby was a well loved, long term member of the Friends of Nevis and Andy, who led groups and individuals on Ben Nevis and other peaks in the area, was keen to find ways to lessen visitor impacts on the hills and support conservation work. Libby's family and friends kindly made donations to Friends of Nevis in her memory.
So, despite a second year of Covid restrictions, Friends of Nevis have continued their activities in Glen Nevis and on Ben Nevis, including regular volunteer work parties helping with path maintenance, litter picking and bracken bashing, and also engagement events. Images and details from some of these are given below:
Litter picks in 2021 included several 'Monday Morning Litter Picks' during the busier summer months and also the regular Friends of Nevis Spring and Autumn events. On one of the hotter summer sessions volunteers were treated to some very welcome ice creams courtesy of Glen Nevis Visitor Centre!
This year Friends of Nevis volunteer Pathwork Parties carried out maintenance on the Allt a Mhuilinn path, Ben Path and also paths in Glen Nevis such as the Lower Falls - Paddies Bridge path. This has helped support the vital work that the NLP seasonal ranger team achieved this year in keeping the paths in good condition.
During the summer Volunteers helped clear American Skunk Cabbage, an Invasive Non Native Species, from a site in Glen Nevis along with a NLP Seasonal Ranger and Highland Council Seasonal Access Rangers. Its a resilient plant so further volunteer work parties will be needed in years to come!
Engagement events this year included a Herbal Walk & Forage with author and practicing Medical Herbalist Clare Holohan, a Fungal Foray with leading Field Mycologist Liz Holden and several bird ringing drop in sessions run by BTO licenced ringers Kirsty Ross and John Owen. In addition Friends of Nevis also held its annual AGM at the end of October, attended by members and supporters, at which Jonathon Hart was the Guest Speaker, who gave an engaging account of his work with Jahama Highland Estates, who are the landowners and managers for much of Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis
As well as supporting volunteer activities, Friends of Nevis have provided financial support this year to Nevis Landscape Partnership including funding for the purchase of 100 square metres of interlocking Aco Groundguard stabilisation tiles. These have been used to stabilise the eastern end of the Riverside All Abilities Path, which had some significant surface damage in floods in September 2020.
Looking ahead to 2022
We are working on the calendar of work parties and engagement events for 2022, which will be posted here before year end and will be available for sign up from our events page. Watch this space!
Six hardy volunteers braved a chilly Nor' Wester on Saturday to help with the final Volunteer Pathwork Party of the Year. The task for the day was to clear the cross drains and ditches along the Ben Nevis mountain path, starting from Achintee. In some places ditches needed digging out and reinstating, as seen below, to prevent excess run off pouring onto the path and washing off surface material.
If you are keen to take part in Volunteer events keep an eye on our Events Page where we will shortly be listing our work parties and engagement events for 2022
Our last event scheduled for this year will be drop in Bird Ringing (no registration needed), at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre on Saturday 11th December. See our events page https://www.friendsofnevis.co.uk/events.html
If you like the work the Friends of Nevis does but don't wish to volunteer you can still support by either becoming a member or by donating: see our 'Join' and 'Donate' pages for more details.
The riverside All Ability Path has suffered damage in the past couple of years when the river has been in flood and overflowed its banks, in particular at the Youth Hostel Bridge end of the path.
In 2020 the surface of the path in this section was heavily scoured in places by flood water as seen in the image below
Temporary repairs were carried out in 2020 by Nevis Landscape Partnership Seasonal Rangers by filling in the scoured area with the original path material where it could be recovered and also a tonne of fresh quarry stone. However, this was quite a loose surface finish and as this section of the path will likely see further flooding events, a longer term solution was required. This year Friends of Nevis generously funded the purchase of 100 square meters of Aco Groundguard as a means of stabilising the path surface. This had already been trialed in 2019 around the picnic bench by the Youth Hostel Bridge and proved successful in the subsequent 2020 flood event. Work on laying the Groundguard started in October with the NLP Seasonal Ranger team. More recently Dougie and Calum, two well know faces and general path work gurus, were hired by NLP to continue with the work.
Six Friends of Nevis Volunteers at Braveheart
15 Volunteers turned out to help with the Friends of Nevis Autumn Litter Pick and Curling Ponds clear up on Sunday 21st November, organised and led by Joy and Hughie. After an initial briefing volunteers split into smaller teams and covered the Glen from the Curling Ponds all the way up to the Upper Falls Car Park and also included Roaring Mill and the 'Heart Attack' Several bags of rubbish, fly tipped tarps and several glass bottles were cleared up. The levels of litter were not as much as in previous years, thanks in part to litter picks by NLP Rangers, JMT staff and Friends of Nevis Volunteers through the busy summer season. Notable this year was some fly tipping at Sheep Fank near Lower Falls and roadside debris from a car fire / crash near Braveheart entrance. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped!
Above: Close up of a male Goldfinch.
Mild and settled conditions on Saturday 13th November enabled BTO licenced bird ringers Kirsty and John to set up and run another of their popular drop in Bird Ringing sessions.
When I came by in the late morning they had already had over 70 birds, quite a number of which were birds they had previously rung in previous years, including this handsome young male Goldfinch pictured above. This bird had been originally rung by the team in 2018, making it 3 years old, which is good longevity for a wild bird. By the end of the day they had recorded 88 new birds and 37 're-traps'. Species included Blue, Coal and Great Tits; Siskins; House Sparrow; Dunnock; Robin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a Great - Spotted Woodpecker.
If you have never seen wild birds close up it is well worth dropping in on one of their sessions both to see the birds and also learn about them from John and Kirsty who have a wealth of avian knowledge. Information regards the size, weight, sex and age of the birds is recorded and added to national records that inform our knowledge of the population size and spread of the various species. Each bird is given a special ring on its leg with a unique code so that if it is ever re-caught it can be identified and information regards age and dispersion can be learned. Fitting the rings is delicate work and it takes many years for ringers to get their licenses. The next drop in session will be on Saturday 11th December, put the date in your diary!
Above Left: Fitting the correct sized ring on a young male Chaffinch's leg. Above Right: Accurately measuring primary feather length of a Goldfinch
Friends of Nevis AGM Friday 29th October
Due to continuing uncertainty about holding the AGM indoors, this years AGM was carried out online using the Nevis Landscape Partnership's Zoom account. Approximately 24 people attended including faithful volunteers, Helen and Steve from Kent, who had stayed in one of the Glamping Pods at Glen Nevis Holidays. During their stay they kindly helped Rory and the Seasonal Ranger team remove two unused owl boxes and poles from Leanachan Forest.
The usual AGM business was carried out including a Directors Report and Treasurers report followed by election of office bearers. This year our guest speaker was Jonathan Hart, Liaison Officer form Jahama Highland Estates. Jonathan's talk gave an insight into Jahama's complex and varied operation which stretches from Spey Dam, Glen Shero and Laggan in the east to Kinlochleven in the west (including of course Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis) together with the challenges and opportunities that it brings.
Friends of Nevis Pathwork Party 06 Nov 2021
After the morning's gales and rain the sun almost came out!
Despite gale force winds and horizontal rain four hardy volunteers ventured out for a day of cross drain clearing and path maintenance. As Kirsty, one of the Friends of Nevis volunteer trustees and long time volunteer put it: 'its great weather for clearing drains'.
Our first focus was to work on the link path leading from the Riverside Path up to Achintee. The cross drains on this section fill in fairly quickly but some excellent work from the Nevis Landscape Partnership Seasonal rangers earlier in the summer meant they weren't too bad and we were finished this section just after 11.30.
After stopping off to fill bird feeders at the Visitor Centre in preparation for next weeks Bird Ringing, we headed on to Lower Falls and the path to Paddies Bridge. By this time the rain bearing occluded front had passed over us and the rain eased off..blue sky was even spotted. Spectacular views of streams cascading off the flanks of the Ben and the Mamores was had. Looking down to the river also gave views of a group of kayakers negotiating the white water rapids of the upper Nevis from Steall and over Lower falls
Regular Friends of Nevis Volunteer Kirsty and new Volunteer Matthew; Bria our four legged volunteer helps with digging out a silt trap
Volunteers Calum and Jenny in action
Dates for the Diary
It has been a busy summer in the Glen and Friends of Nevis volunteers have been giving their time to ensure that it is still looking good, both for visitors and biodiversity. This has included several Monday Morning Litter Picks, clearing up after busy weekends in the lower Glen, bracken bashing in the Nevis Landscape Partnership Future Forests tree enclosures at Polldubh and removing invasive American Skunk Cabbage from the site of the Old Studio at Achriabhach. On the latter event we were also glad to have the support of Matt Bradley and Ali Tait from the Highland Council Ranger Team. More recently the Nevis Landscape Partnership seasonal ranger team have organised some engagement events in the Glen including a herbal forage led by Claire Holohan, author of Scotland's Wild Medicine and a Fabulous Fungi Foray with Liz Holden, one of the UK's leading Filed Mycologists. Friends of Nevis Trustee Kirsty Ross and her fellow BTO licenced bird ringer John Owen resumed their popular drop in Bird Ringing events with a highly successful session on Sunday 11th September, ringing over 80 birds and attracting several visitors.
Left: Field Mycologist Liz Holden leading Fungi Foray; Right: Licensed Ringer recording biometric data during bird ringing session.
Dates for the diary
If you want more details or wish to sign up pop over to our events page!
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