The Friends of Nevis 2019 season got off to a constructive start with a work party building a much needed stile over the deer fence on the west side of the Allt a Mhuilinn. Walkers and climbers descending from the ' Half Way Lochan' heading for either the North Face car park or the start of the Allt a Mhuilinn path can be faced with an intimidating river crossing at this point over the Allt a Mhuilinn in wet conditions. The stile means that there is now an alternative to follow the west bank down for a few hundred meters to pick up the vehicle track.
The existing fence had a large hole where people had been making their way through to avoid crossing the Allt a Mhuilinn so Dougie picked this as the spot for the stile which both provided a crossing point and also mended the hole in the fence. It was good having Friends of Nevis volunteer Calum Ross on hand to lend his Forestry expertise in getting large posts into the ground!
The finished job!!
Back in the Glen Rowan Doff, the Nevis Partnership conservation officer led the January Conservation Work Party doing battle with Rhododendron. Lever and Mulch, a technique that doesnt require the use of power tools, chemicals or burning was used. It also provides a 'green gym' workout!
Would you want to meet this team on a dark night??!
Before and during / after
Work parties and engagement events are arranged through until the end of March, please have a look at the events page. I'm currently working on events for the rest of the year, let me know if you have anything you would particularly like to see on the programme!
Friends of Nevis volunteer Ali Stewart had an unexpected surprise when she arrived for the December Footpath Workparty....she had been nominated as Friends of Nevis Volunteer of the Year and was duly presented with a well deserved prize and a speech from from Friends of Nevis Chair Joy Biggin, who highlighted the importance of the work that Friends of Nevis Volunteers do on the Ben and in the Glen.
The Friends of Nevis volunteer Year 2018 finished off with two well subscribed events, a pathwork day led by Dougie concentrating on the lower Ben Nevis mountain path and a Festive Felling event on Saturday 8th, removing non-native regeneration such as Sitka Spruce and Lodge Pole pine. Some of the trees removed were available at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre Christmas Crafts Day the following day for a small donation to the Lochaber Foodbank.
The final drop in event of the year will be a Bird Ringing event on Sunday 16th December, at the Visitor Centre.
Dates for volunteer events and workshops for the first quarter of 2019 will shortly be posted so watch this space!
November continued to be a busy month with a number of Friends of Nevis events taking place following on from the AGM at the start of the month. Dougie led an accredited Footpath Awareness day on the 14th of November which was attended by our new trio of Trainee Volunteer Rangers, some local Mountain Leaders, Nevis Partnership's Fundraising Manager and her partner. The walk up the Allt a Mhuillin path took place in excellent weather to see drains and ditches working (i.e. lashing down with rain!!) Some of the discussion on the day also looked at ways of informing walkers about the work done on paths and funded by donations in the cairns.
The Autumn litter pick and curling ponds clear up on the 18th was very well attended with 33 volunteers turning up on the day. Calum Ross kindly organised a chipper to reduce some of the piles of brash left over from thinning out vegetation regrowth at the curling ponds. The day was also an opportunity for three brand new TVR's (Eilidh, Jen and Cormac) to meet Friends of Nevis in person. They were duly detailed to the river banks and cleared up a mass of litter upstream of Nevis Bridge. The Ben Nevis Highland Centre hosted the coffee / shortbread briefing in the morning. FoN really appreciates their support, since FoN began the Litter Picks 10 years ago.
As always great organisation and preparation from Joy, Fiona Wild and Hughie, thanks also to Paul Biggin for his help collecting bags of rubbish at the end of the day and taking it to recycling.
BTO licenced bird ringer John Owen continues to run drop in ringing events at the Visitor Centre aided by FoN trainee ringer Kirstie and Skye based trainee ringer Jonathon. On Sunday 25th November they had 178 captures, 139 new and 39 retraps (numbers in brackets, birds that had been previously ringed on other occasions) The birds ringed included Coat tits 24 (16), Blue tits 28 (8), Great tits 26 (7), Chaffinch 36, Robin 8 (3), Black birds 6, Long tailed tits 3 (1), Dunnock 1 (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Siskin 5, Goldfinch 2 (1), Treecreeper (1).
December Dates for Your Diary
Bird Ringing in Glen Nevis +(Visitor Centre Contemplation Area)
BTO Bird Ringer John Owen and Trainee Ringer Kirstie Ross made good use of a short spell of settled weather and put up their mist nets on the chilly but dry morning of Saturday 27th October.
They recorded 61 new birds caught and 5 re-traps of birds that had been ringed on previous occasions. Birds caught varied from our smallest song bird, the Goldcrest, to Blackbird. 2 new species were recorded for the site on this occasion, Goldcrest and Wren (pictured left, expertly held by John Owen.) More ringing sessions to follow, keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for details.
Sights in the Glen
The low angle sunlight picks out the autumn colours at this time of the year and can make for some stunning scenery
Its a good time of year also to look for species that are normally hidden by the leaves and vegetation.
Graphidion 'Script' Lichens on smooth Hazel stems growing near Lower Falls in the glen.
Glue Crust fungus on a Hazel stem, near Lower Falls. This fungus amazingly keeps dead twigs for itself by gluing them to living branches, therefore preventing them falling to the ground. It is parasitized by the much rarer fungus, Hypocreopsis rhododendri, also known as Hazel Gloves. These look like nature bright orange rubber gloves and are a priority UK BAP species, its stronghold being the Atlantic Hazlewoods of the west coast of Scotland. Keep your eyes peeled!
Footpath Work Party
Dougie and a team of volunteers build a new cross drain on the Lower Falls to Paddy's Bridge path as part of a footpath work party on 2nd November. Interestingly some of the granite blocks that were selected for treadstones showed signs of previous drilling and quarrying, probably from a small granite outcrop above the path. It wasn't immediately obvious what this previous quarrying was for or how long ago it happened.
2018 Friends of Nevis AGM
There was a great turn out for the AGM on Friday 2nd November, with around 50 people attending. The evening started with reports from Friends of Nevis office bearers Joy and Stephen, followed by the announcement of the 'Volunteer of the Year' award recipient. I cant reveal their name at present as they weren't in attendance so they might not know yet!
Adam Pinder, Head Fundraiser for The John Muir Trust, gave a talk about the work of the Trust, some of its challenges and some of its more recent developments: for example Glen Lude in the Borders and Helvellyn in the Lake District.
The Glen Nevis Restaurant provided a bounteous buffet and afterwards there was time for everyone to catch up and have a good blether.
For the Diary
For full details of these events please go to the Events Page or get in touch
Curling Ponds Clear Up
Summer has slipped into autumn and first on the list of Conservation Work Parties this September was a tidy up of the Curling Ponds area at the entrance to the Glen. Helen and Steve from Kent journeyed up to join locals Joy, Ali and Hughie and NLP staff Dougie, Rowan and Rory for a day of cutting back alder and sycamore growth and removing rubbish. Soil and vegetation was piled up to mulch on some of the spots that had become informal camp spots to deter future car boot campers.
Hughie unearthed a set of stairs that probably haven't seen the light of day for 30 years and later looked like he was practicing for the next Bon Spiel! (Watch this space for details of the next Curling Event!)
Celebrating the Wild Festival
Despite wet and windy weather the Celebrating the Wild Festival was a great success and the Friends of Nevis stands were particularly busy. Few young people managed to pass the stand without first being sent off on Kirtsy's Treasure Trail and having come back they then got stuck into Claire's pendant workshop using stones and pebbles sourced from all around the Highlands.
A host of partners from Nevis Partnership also generously supported by providing activities and resources. Abacus Mountain Guides and the Inside Out Club provided a crowd pulling Tyrolean across lower falls and other stands included the John Muir Trust Rangers clay sculpture, Highlife Highland Rangers all about bats, Resilient Roots foraged food cooking and Lochaber Fisheries Trust did some kick sampling in the river. Rowan from Nevis Landscape Partnership led tree planting excursions and the local scouts oversaw car parking. Cormac came and gave us some music. Iona from Nevis Landscape Partnership did a fantastic job organising the event, volunteers and running face painting.
Dates for the diary
What a cracking summer season! Plenty has been going on in the Glen and further afield. For example, we had another successful drop in bird ringing event at the Glen Nevis visitor centre led by BTO ringer John Owen who was aided by two trainees (including FoN stalwart Kirstie) and Trainee Volunteer Ranger Jake who holds a 'C' permit. 154 new birds were ringed along with several retraps and controls recorded. Birds included Siskins, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Wood Pigeon, Blackcap, Blackbird, Coal Tit and Robin. The ongoing effort at this site is starting to produce some good data. The next event is on Sunday 26th August, hopefully the weather gods will be kind!
Local Botanist Dr Ian Strachan led a well attended botanical foray to Bohuntine to visit the hay meadows. We learned how traditionally managed hay meadows support a rich flora but have suffered a massive decline due to modern meadow management and silage production. Over 50 plant species were identified in the field including some fine orchid examples such as Heath Spotted, Heath Fragrant, Greater and Lesser Butterfly, Northern Marsh Orchid and some suspected Dactylorhiza hybrids.
Back at An Drochaid we were treated to a bumper Moth Morning in July by Tom Prescott from Butterfly Conservation. About 100 species were identified including Burnished Brass, Antler Moth, True Lovers Knot, Large Emerald and Drinker (shown below)
Up the Ben and in the Glen pathwork, bracken bashing and tree planting have been happening, led by Dougie and Rowan from Nevis Landscape Partnership and ably assisted by summer Trainee Volunteer Rangers Jake, Chris, Scott, Dave, Andy and Cameron. To date almost 9,000 trees have been planted and 11 kilometres of pathwork completed by Nevis Landscape Partnership and Friends of Nevis work parties. We still have in the region of 4,000 trees to plant and plenty more work to do on the Ben paths so come along and sign up for one of our conservation or footpath work parties to do your bit! As always the craic is great, plentiful chocolate biscuits and tea provided.
Friends of Nevis member Ali Stewart shows how its done below!
Photos and post by Rory Stewart, Friends of Nevis & Nevis Landscape Partnership Volunteer Coordinator.
Another busy year was had during 2017 with some fantastic work being carried out in the Ben and Glen Nevis area. We can't thank you all enough for your support whether it be through membership, volunteering or donations. Alongside this many benefited from our workshops from Gaelic in the Landscape to Leave no Trace Awareness to Upland Bird Surveying along with kids events, we had a productive year.
Now looking ahead to 2018 and moving into the 5th year of working in partnership with Nevis Landscape Partnership www.nevislandscape.co.uk/ and other partner organisations, all striving towards sustainable use of the outdoors. Our events calendar is filling with lots of work parties planned and new events constantly being added. Check out our events page.
We hope to see you along on one of our events this year.
Susan, Volunteer Coordinator
It's been AGES since we've had a chance to update the blog, sorry folks!
If you want a chance to catch-up with us in person and find out about all of the fun things we've been doing in Glen Nevis since you heard from us last make sure you come along to our AGM. Our informal gathering will take place on Friday 3rd November at Glen Nevis Restaurant and a small donation is required to cover the costs of a buffet for everyone who comes along.
The evening is your chance to meet our members, volunteers and staff as well as hear from our guest speaker archaeologist Martin Cook who will be talking about the most recent excavation of Dun Deardail, a project Friends of Nevis were heavily involved in.
Book your spot here;
We look forward to seeing you there, all the best!
Well, where does the time go, since our last instalment we have been cramming a lot in. Not only have Friends of Nevis had their own events but volunteers have been able to get involved in all Nevis Landscape Partnership events. It’s been busy….Here are a few mentions…
Footpath Work Parties have continued every month and volunteers have been trying to keep on top of the maintenance of these paths. Contractors cover big chunks of the work however unless these paths are maintained they easily become damaged and eroded. Our volunteers are vital in the upkeep of these paths for the use of all, thank you!
Our Citizen Science events have continued to be popular with Gordon Strachan running a Wild Flowers of Glen Nevis event around Steall Gorge and Liz Holden running a Fungi Foray event round Leanachan Forest. Both events were popular and delivered with lots of enthusiasm and we all came away with lots to think about.
And then to the children…
A Family Bushcraft Day run by Pete Long during the October holidays was a great opportunity for families to learn and have fun together. Weather was pretty miserable however this dampened no-one’s spirits and shelters were built, fires made and marshmallows enjoyed by all.
We joined forces with Forestry Commission Scotland and Highland Council Rangers to run a couple of school events. Lundavra Primary enjoyed a visit to Leananchan woods for an Adventurers and Explorers day and Inverlochy Primary learned map reading skills and put these to the test during a treasure hunt which allowed them to find equipment to build a fire and have smores and hot chocolate!
One thing (among many other skills!) Friends of Nevis volunteers do brilliantly is keeping Glen Nevis clean and tidy. Hardy, dedicated volunteers, both young and old did a fantastic job this year keeping Glen Nevis presentable for the benefit of the environment and for others to appreciate and enjoy as much as we all do. A huge thank you for those prepared to do the less glamorous but very rewarding work.
We have been so busy over here I haven't had a chance to sit down and tell you all about what we have been up to so here goes..
First of all, way back in May we had another excellent bushcraft workshop with the super-talented Pete Long. A mixture of Nevis Trainee Rangers & the general public enjoyed learning how to survive in the wild, build shelters and enjoy tasty wild foods. Thank you to everyone who came along, it's good to go wild now & again!
We continued our walk on the wild side and dabbled in some foraging with Claire, West Highland Herbal. Claire's workshops are always popular, the Herb Walk and Workshop were both fully booked weeks in advance, make a note to book early for the next one! There was plenty of foraging to be done in Glen Nevis and what the group collected with was enough to create lots of edible treats & medicinal lotions back at Friends of Nevis HQ.
We followed up our fortnight of being wild things with some good old fashioned work parties. First up, our volunteers travelled to The Lake District for a weekend in the middle of June to lend a hand to the "Fix the Fells" campaign and make friends with similar organisations, hopefully the folk we met will travel north and return the favour. Next on the cards was our first ever Thistle Camp with National Trust for Scotland, a week-long footpath work party focusing on the Ben Nevis mountain track. The working holiday was booked up, the sun shone all week & the volunteers worked really hard to make a HUGE difference to the track, take a look. If we had used contractors for this it would've cost nearly £30,000, power to the volunteers!
Here at Friends of Nevis we have loved having Ruth, Nicolle, Eliot & Katie come along and lend a hand on almost all of our recent events. The fab four are taking part in The Nevis Training Programme, a ten-week placement in the area offering them essential work experience to gain employment in the environmental sector. We just wanted to say a big thanks for all your help & the long shifts you put in to man the registration desks and marshall the Caledonian Challenge after a hard-week of Thistle Camp'ing. Well done folks!
Phew! So we've covered May through to early July, are you still with us?
We said goodbye to the first lot of volunteer rangers and welcomed four new trainees last month & wasted no time getting them stuck into some of our engagement events including the popular "Bird Ringing & Mist Netting" workshop as part of our Citizen Science programme. A great event and a chance for volunteers and trainees alike to get up close to lots of different bird species and learn how to safely handle and ring the little critters.
We spent last week on a roadtrip around Lochaber bringing bushcraft & environmental games to the wee ones during their rainy summer holidays as part of the excellent Active Schools programme. Ciaran, one of the new trainees, commented on how hardy Lochaber kids were & how completely oblivious they were to the awful weather. All in all a great week of unplugged, natural play which we think the kids of Glencoe, Kinlochleven, Strontian, Arisaig & Fort William enjoyed almost as much as we did, good fun all round.
There you have it folks! A big write-up but I think that's everything from the past wee while that we here at Friends of Nevis have been up to. You are all more than welcome to join in with any of our events, we would love to have you. In fact, this Saturday we are having a Footpath Work Party, if you fancy showing the local mountain paths some love then please sign up here. Keep an eye on here for updates & over on Nevis Landscape Partnership's Facebook page.
All the best, enjoy the weather!
Susan, Friends of Nevis Volunteer Co-ordinator