Despite an ominous forecast of thunderstorms, hail and torrential rain a combined team of Friends of Nevis Volunteers, Nevis Rangers and Jahama Highland Estate Visitor Management Rangers set off to tackle cross drains on the Ben mountain path, up to the first corner beyond the Red Burn. This was successfully completed and even better we stayed dry, if somewhat hot and sticky. With considerable cloud cover and little or no breeze the midges were often out in force and at one stage we had to share our midge repellent with a couple of distressed hill walkers.
Similar to the task of painting the Forth Road Bridge, once the drains have been cleared its time to start at the bottom again so we'll be back! Our next work party is scheduled for Saturday 10th September, if you are keen to enjoy a rewarding day out in good company in the outdoors then pop over to our events page to sign up or visit www.nevislandscape.co.uk/get-involved/events
and scroll down the events list.
The Friends of Nevis Volunteer pathwork party will now take place on Monday 15th August.
If you would like to come along and join our rangers and volunteers doing some vital path maintenance on the Ben Nevis mountain path pop over to the events page or sign up here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/friends-of-nevis-volunteer-path-maintenance-day-tickets-393028206947
Eight young people and two staff from the Wilderness Foundation gave two days of their time as volunteers this week to help with conservation work in Glen Nevis. The group had just completed a multi day open canoe journey on Loch Awe and after a rest day got stuck in with some bracken bashing with Volunteer Coordinator Rory and Seasonal Ranger Evie. Their hard work is much appreciated!
On Saturday 2nd July two hardy volunteers plus two NLP seasonal rangers plus Rory headed out for a day of bracken bashing in the newest of the NLP Future Forests tree exclosures in Glen Nevis. This exclosure was chosen as it has the most recently planted trees and many are still being shaded out by the stands of bracken. It was a typical West Highlands 'soft' conditions: mild, with intermittent light rain and drizzle but thankfully an occasional breeze to keep the midges at bay for most of the time...well maybe! It was a productive day with the bulk of the bracken beaten / cut down around planted trees. As well as planted trees there were plenty of regenerating seedlings in places, mostly birch and rowan but also some sessile oak. Most show evidence of previous herbivore browsing but the protection of the deer fence has allowed them to get away. We came across numerous moths as well, including the two gorgeous Large Emeralds pictured above.
Dates for the Diary
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:
Like what we do? Want to support us? Head over to our membership Join page or support Donate page to find out more
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.
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