Nevis Landscape Partnership (NLP), in collaboration with Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) and Shiel Buses, have been awarded funding from Paths for All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund to trial a new regular bus service from the centre of Fort William along Glen Nevis.
This pilot project was developed in an effort to reduce the ever-increasing congestion in Glen Nevis, particularly during the summer season when more than 400,000 people visit the Glen. The current ‘drive, photo, leave’ phenomenon affecting many honeypot locations in Scotland, increases the use of private cars and vehicles and overwhelms the available parking. This leads to a range of environmentally damaging issues including verge side erosion and harmful pollution, and often makes a visit to the Glen stressful, devaluing the Glen Nevis experience.
By contrast this new bus service, running hourly seven days a week from May to October, will provide opportunities for the local and visiting community to truly experience Glen Nevis in a sustainable and low impact way. It will stop at points of interest and will give visitors the opportunity to explore the Glen on one ticket, providing a slower, more immersive experience. Passengers will be able to sit back and admire the views or to participate in numerous walks along the Glen, and even better, you can take your dog with you!
The first service will head up the Glen leaving Fort William Middle Street at 7:30am and continue into the early evening with the last service leaving the Lower Falls car park at 6:00pm for those wishing to take it slow or embark on more adventurous activities. The reliability and frequency of the service will eliminate the pressure of ‘clock-watching’ the car and visitors will have greater flexibility in hop off locations than the current service provides.
Kate Willis, Environmental Development Officer for LEG noted, “As the climate and ecological crisis deepens we need to significantly reduce our carbon emissions, and this project provides the opportunity to do this by making it easier to hop on a bus rather than getting in a car. We hope that residents of Fort William will take advantage of the bus service to access Glen Nevis and thank Smarter Choices Smarter Places for funding the pilot and NLP and Shiel Buses for working with us to deliver the service.”
Residents of Fort William can take advantage of a concessionary fare with a local smart card, which we hope will encourage more local people to sustainably explore the natural wilderness on their doorstep, without battling through crowds to find a parking space.
Patricia Jordan, member of the Fort William, Inverlochy & Torlundy Community Council, says. “The new bus service is very much needed to ease congestion in the Glen, and I would like to congratulate NLP, LEG and Shiel Buses on securing this funding.”
The bus will launch its first journey on the 4th May and will run daily until 4th October. This exciting project will complement the wider objective to tackle the congestion and pollution in Glen Nevis, including the installation of bike racks and shelters along the Glen, funded by Cycling Scotland, to encourage cycling through the beautiful routes that Glen Nevis has to offer.
Lizzie Cooper, Manager of the Nevis Landscape Partnership said “It’s great to be working with LEG and Shiel Buses to provide this pilot service. I hope it will be well used by locals and visitors and that the feedback from passengers can inform future service improvements up Glen Nevis.”
The Nevis Landscape Partnership, Lochaber Environment Group and Shiel Busses are looking at the feasibility of trialling an enhanced bus service up Glen Nevis during the summer months when visitor numbers are high. Our aim is to maintain access to the area whilst reducing the high volume of car and campervans journeys up Glen Nevis and the associated congestion, pollution, parking and verge side erosion issues which are becoming an increasing problem.
This bus service is one of a number of strategies to encourage people to access Glen Nevis without a vehicle where possible. Other strategies currently being developed are improved walking and cycling routes, all-ability paths and e-bike share schemes to enable people to have a peaceful, stress-free, pollution-free experience in nature.
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One of our wee Scots Pine trees has been nominated for the The Woodland Trust Tree of the Year Award!
The seed was collected from gnarly ancient pines high in the glen and grown on in planting boxes around Lochaber. Local children planted the saplings back out in the glen in enclosures protecting them from grazing animals. As the trees grow, so will the children, to become future guardians of the Glen.
We are delighted that the work of the future forests project can be recognised in this way. We would like to thank all the school children and volunteers for all their hard work as well as our volunteer Alison Stewart for making the nomination.
Thanks is also given to National Lottery Heritage Fund and Liberty Aluminium, Jahama Highland Estates, who worked with us on this project.
Now that we have been nominated we need your help to win! Please visit the website and vote for our wee Scots Pine tree as Scotland’s Tree of the Year!
By Dougie Sinclair
There has been a lot of focus over the last 5 years on the well-known and used paths in the Glen like the Ben Nevis mountain path and the All Abilities path, but there are several others that are also in need of attention!
One such route is further up the Glen from Paddy’s Bridge along the south side of the River Nevis and over to Steall Falls. We have recently received funding from the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and Friends of Nevis to upgrade this path which will provide another excellent low-level path and poor weather option in the area.
By crossing the wire rope bridge a new circular route can be made, returning through the stunning gorge. It would also provide an alternative route into the Steall Meadows area and access to the Mamore Hills and the popular “Ring of Steall “ walk without either having to cross the wire rope bridge which can be an obstacle for some people, or fording the River Nevis if the water level allows. At the end of a long day in poor conditions this could be a very welcome alternative to the crossing of the Nevis by either route, making their walk much safer. Finally it would maintain access to Steall and the Mamores in the event of a land slip in Steall Gorge of which there have been several in recent years.
This project also brings environmental benefits by defining a line through the boggy areas, stopping the increasing erosion of path braiding, and allows the peatland areas to recover, although some intervention may help this process. Further, it would also provide the opportunity to remove large sections of redundant, rusting metal fencing and wire fencing from the local environment, providing safer and better access for people and wildlife.
At one time this was a very well-built path and certainly suitable for ponies over the steeper section to Steall, with carts on the lower route to the now ruined sheiling at Blar Ban. Much of this lower, flatter section has been lost in the bog and the chosen footpath is now following the riverbank. This is a very pleasant natural path winding through the woods and will not require any major work. There is still work needed to improve some boggy sections which the National Trust for Scotland Thistle Camp and our own TVRs have made a good start on, but it will remain an occasionally wet path for the slightly more adventurous.
At the end of the flat section, nearer the entrance to the gorge, the track starts to slant up the hill. This section was hidden under the line of an old deer fence, now removed, and the construction of the path starts to become apparent.
It was a well made substantial construction but due to the fence line, years of land slippage and vegetation growth it has gradually disappeared. The route is now obvious as far as the first of many switch backs as the path heads up the hill. It is at this first switch back that walkers have mistakenly carried on heading for the gorge and into unpleasant, steep and potentially dangerous ground. Initially we may put a sign here to make sure the correct route is followed.
The first contract, to be issued in August, will make these switch backs more obvious so that the walker will be in no doubt as to the direction to take. We will add drainage features to help shed the water and other minor construction of stone steps on a few steeper sections.
On reaching the crest the view is superb looking down to Steall meadows and the falls with distant views to Binnien Beag. It is fascinating to work out the original route, following some rocky slabs and steppingstones across wet sections that were laid over a hundred years ago, and picking up the winding path down to the river. The original route swings back to where the old bridge was at the entrance to the gorge (now gone bar a few metal posts) but the new route will carry on towards the wire bridge further upstream and on to the falls.
In the future perhaps a replacement bridge would be good. This would remove the obstacle to many people of the wire bridge and create a very enjoyable circular route at the head of the Glen. If this section is completed it would be a major step towards the overall aim of creating the Glen Nevis Heritage Trail, an off road route joining the low level footpaths in the Glen from the curling ponds to Steall Falls and back to the curling ponds.
So far we have only a small amount of funding for this path, but once the route is more established we will hopefully gain more to complete the project. Our work means that we will secure the future sustainability of Ben and Glen Nevis - enhancing everyone’s experience in the Glen.
It would be fascinating to know more of the history of this route, or any of the old ways in the Glen, so if anyone has any information or even photographs we would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything to share!
Top - Chris Walker
Bottom - Fix the Fells
We are excited to announce the publication of the consultation draft of The Nevis Strategy 2020-40 and our feedback survey for you to have your say!
This strategy will guide our direction and priorities for the next 20 years and beyond, building on the work we have already accomplished in the Nevis area.
Our 100-year vision depicts the Nevis landscape as being a place of contrasts; not only wild land, but also a land inhabited by those who work, live and visit the area.
After many months of waiting, it has been announced that the Nevis Landscape Partnership working in collaboration with the local community have been successful in their application to VisitScotland and the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Fund to improve visitor facilities at Lower Falls in Glen Nevis. Work will take place over the autumn and winter.
The funding package including £300,000 from VisitScotland and a further £150,000 from other funders is currently being finalised and will be used to install public transport access facilities, signage, a picnic area, new paths, toilet facilities and improve parking. This will be a significant asset to the Glen.
In 2018, it was estimated that 160,000 people walked up the Ben Nevis Mountain path and 300,000 people visited Glen Nevis. As numbers of visitors increase, there is increased pressure on visitor facilities in the Glen making this project at the Lower Falls car park essential to enhance visits and access to the outdoors.
The local community have pulled together to identify specific improvements that will form part of an ongoing integrated infrastructure strategy for the glen.
The improvements will include a new road layout to increase visibility at the car park entrance, improving safety and manoeuvrability for larger vehicles, and a new layout of the car park that will incorporate additional spaces, more accessible spaces, and dedicated areas for motorhome day parking. A new bus drop-off point will also be constructed to make this area more accessible to a wider audience. These changes will help to ease parking capacity issues at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, and Steall Falls.
In an effort to reduce the number of cars travelling to the Upper Steall car park, new link paths, interpretation, and a new bike rack will encourage more visitors to park at Lower Falls and use it as a starting point to explore Glen Nevis by foot or on bikes.
A new picnic area and waterless drying-waste toilet facilities will further enhance visitor experience and make the area more accessible to a wider audience.
This is a very positive step for the Nevis Landscape Partnership and the local community and will be a great asset to Glen Nevis. While this funding provides the resources necessary for improvement of visitor facilities in the Glen, the NLP is still working hard to secure match funding for this project and beyond this, to secure the future of the organisation.
Did you know, last year over 160,000 people climbed Ben Nevis and we estimate that 300,000 visited Glen Nevis & Steall Falls.
Over the past 5 years we have maintained paths, planted over 12,000 native trees with local children and been monitoring & conserving habitats of rare species found here like the Chequered Skipper Butterfly.
We do all this without any statutory funding and we need your support to help us do more of this.
We aim to continue to maintain paths, create more circular walks, improve facilities in the Glen, including better car parks, toilets and information, build a hub where you can explore this amazing environment in more depth and much more.
The Goodbox is being hosted at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis.
If you are a local business and would like to support us, please contact email@example.com
Explore - Support - Protect
The North Face Survey project which ran for one week in August from 2014 to 2016 has been newly documented in print in the form of a new book ‘The Noth Face Survey – Discovering the hidden side of Ben Nevis’ and was officially launched on Friday 22 of February.
Both the survey and the book are a great representation of the diversity of mountain cuture so it was fitting that the launch was held during the Fort William Mountain Festival. The new publication details how the project came together, the botanical and geological findings over the three years of the survey, and how climbers, botanists, and geologists came together to take on such an incredible project.
The book launch was a successful event which included a talk from project designer Cathy Mayne, a screening of the film ‘Ben Nevis: The Hidden Side’ which was made about the survey in 2014, and a discussion with botanist Ian Strachan, geologist Noel Williams, and professional climber Dave Anderson about the findings and logistics of the project. There were over 30 people in attendance at the event held at West Highland College UHI.
The book was a popular item on the Nevis Landscape Partnership stall in the exhibition centre over the weekend of the Mountain Festival which was also a great success. The Ben Nevis Film project this year included 6 short films which were made by Dave and Claire MacLeod of Rare Breed Productions and premiered over three nights of the Mountain Festival.
The books are for sale at the Nevis Landscape Partnership office in Claggan, on the online shop, www.nevispartnership.co.uk/shop, at the Granite House, the Highland Bookshop, and the Lochaber Geopark.
What an incredible year we've had! Gary Innes planted the 10,000th native tree in Glen Nevis, we hosted 11 trainee volunteer rangers, made national news with the Dun Deardail Lego model built by Brick to the Past, welcomed four new staff members, launched our very first fundraising campaign, Sponsor a Tree, and counted 150,000 people walking along the Ben Nevis Mountain Path! We've accomplished a lot in 2018 so naturally we are all enjoying a well deserved break over the holidays.
We wish you and your family and friends a very happy Christmas and New Year and hope you are enjoying the festive season.
2019 is already looking busy with lots of fun things on including some path and conservation work parties, community engagement events, and the Fort William Mountain Festival! Keep a look out for diary dates in the New Year!
Today saw the 10,000th native tree from the Future Forests project planted in Glen Nevis by musician Gary Innes. Being from Fort William originally, we thought it would be appropriate to ask Gary to come join us to mark this monumental milestone.
Gary had his accordion on standby but in true Lochaber style, the weather did now allow for a musical interlude. Despite the rain, he was undeterred and happy to get a bit muddy for the tree planting cause.
Beginning in 2014, the Future Forests project started the process of restoring the native woodland in Glen Nevis. Key to the success of the project was bringing together the local community, enabling them to get hands on in the whole process from propagating trees from to planting them out in the Glen. We still have 3,500 Scots pine saplings left to plant and enough seed for 175,000 trees in storage.
We hope that future work on native forest regeneration in Glen Nevis will be supported by our new fundraising campaign, Sponsor a Tree. Donations to the Sponsor a Tree campaign can go towards tree planting, exclosure fencing, tools, materials and education days for school students and volunteers. As well as growing our future forests, we will continue to work to enhance habitats for native wildlife and maintain paths to provide sustainable access to this unique environment.
We would like to thank the programme funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Woodland Trust and landowners Jahama Highland Estates.