30 May 2021
Pathway Improvements | The Old Man of Storr - Isle of Skye | The Highland Council | 2020
McGowan Environmental Engineering were appointed by The Highland Council to repair a large-scale erosion scar on the main path to the Old Man of Storr and undertake additional path upgrade works. The project brief - set by The Highland Council and their project partners Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) - stated that all works were to be carried out using environmentally sensitive techniques, with a mix of machine assisted and hand build expertise.
The Old Man of Storr is located on the north of Skye in the area known as ‘Trotternish’. The Trotternish Ridge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is nationally important for its flora, base-rich upland habitats and a range of geological features. The Storr was created by a massive ancient landside, leaving one of the most photographed landscapes in the world where the ‘Old Man’ is the large pinnacle of rock that stands high and can be seen for miles around.
The Storr walk is probably the most famous walk on the Isle of Skye and certainly the busiest. It uses the same path up and down, starting and returning at the same point, covering a distance of 3.8km The main path is an average of 2.0m wide and comprises both aggregate and stone pitched path construction. It is designed to provide visitors with a clear access route, thereby reducing erosion and subsequent damage to the environment and landscape.
Working at such an iconic location is a privilege but it does create various challenges. The site is not only remote but also extremely busy with visitors all year round. Getting staff, machinery, equipment and materials to site was difficult, with the steep slopes and rugged terrain providing a stern test for our highly skilled upland footpath team. In an attempt to further minimise any impact on the landscape, we contracted Skyhook Helicopters to deliver the stone for constructing the path.
We were thrilled to receive such positive feedback from Laura Burns (Project Manager) at The Highland Council, who stated:
“The Highland Council were delighted to have McGowan Environmental Engineering as the main contractors for pathwork improvements on the iconic Old Man of Storr site. The path was in poor repair, given the large number of visitors who visit the site every year. The McGowan team came on site, and provided a very professional upgrade to the route, which should ensure an easier access to the many visitors who make the journey every year. The McGowan team were professional, and hard working. Dealing with some unusual circumstances, including helicopter lifts to the site, they pushed on and have completed the new path to a high standard.”
McGowan Environmental Engineering were delighted to assist The Highland Council and Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) on this environmentally sensitive project and we look forward to working with them both again in the future.
Thanks to our friends at Scotland: The Big Picture for the following aerial photography.