Areas around Skye landmark closed while ‘challenging’ restoration takes place

The work is to repair erosion at the Old Man of Storr.

21 October 2022

Parts of an iconic Skye landmark will be closed to visitors as vital restoration work takes place.

Work is to be carried out to areas around the Old Man of Storr which have been eroded by walkers.

The spiky pinnacles of rock, jutting up from green hills, are said to be visited by more than 200,000 people each year.

This has worn away vegetation in the area, and led to soil erosion.

The restoration is said to be “challenging work” but project leaders say it will “make the site resilient and available for future generations to enjoy”.

The Skye Iconic Sites Project, which is part of an almost £9 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and Islands, carried out habitat restoration trials in the area last year, involving sowing local wildflower seed in a bid to boost grasslands.

Now the project, led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, will see lightweight jute netting known as GeoJute installed in areas to help stabilise the land in places where the soil has been eroded.

This netting will be held in place with pins and boulders, which will be scattered over the top, helping to secure it against the worst of the winter weather.

With further seeding work to be done, along with small patches of turf being placed in some spots, the boulders should also create sheltered micro climates for seedlings to establish.

Other work will involve deep gullies being dammed with rocks and turf to slow rainwater and trap the eroding soil, while drainage ditches should reduce natural drainage going into gullies.

Project bosses said that to protect both contractors and the public, access to small areas of the site at the Old Man of Storr would be “limited temporarily”.

Areas will be roped off, with signs put in place to explain the importance of the conservation measures to visitors.

Dougie Baird, CEO of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland said: “The understandable popularity of the Old Man of Storr as a unique visitor attraction has led to the erosion of grassland, which is a crucial component of the local ecosystem and a key part of Scotland’s natural heritage.

“Using jute netting in this way will help to stabilise and restore the slopes, to the benefit of both the area’s fauna and flora and its future visitors.

“We are very grateful for the backing of the Skye Iconic Sites Partnership in making this project possible and for their support in safeguarding this spectacular landscape for generations to come.”

Alistair Danter, chair of the Skye Iconic Sites Partnership, added: “It is great to be able to carry out this challenging work that will make the site resilient and available for future generations to enjoy, the economic and environmental value that an asset like the Old Man of Storr represents for the local community is hard to overstate.”

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