Bus drivers carry out repairs to Staffin Slip path

A GROUP of determined coach drivers and office workers have completed badly-needed repairs on a 19th century lifeline route in north Skye.

For the fourth time in under two years, staff from Rabbie’s Trail Burners have teamed up with Staffin Community Trust (SCT) up to carry out significant repairs to key local footpaths.

Eight volunteers from the company spent two days at the path to Staffin Slipway digging out new and improved drainage and resurfacing after water and thick vegetation had affected the route in recent years. The path is an important part of Staffin’s history as itwas a lifeline for generations of local people with essential supplies being delivered by boat, decades before a road was built.

A stone path leads from the Slip, which was built by the Congested Districts Board in the early 1900s, at Ob nan Ron to the crofting township of Garafad. Indeed, the zig-zag path higher up, near the Cadha Riach, is marked on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps between 1843-1882.

The path is still hugely popular with local people and visitors and is frequently used by Columba 1400 Centre staff and course participants for accessing the Slip and Staffin Beach.

Donald Kennedy and the Rabbie’s volunteers after completing the path repairs.

Rabbie’s, a popular tour company which runs trips to the island all-year round, and SCT, have a productive working partnership, as part of the Skye Ecomuseum heritage project. Staff have previously carried out repairs to routes at the Quiraing and Brogaig.

Highland Council’s Skye access officer Donald Kennedy, who is a key member of the ecomuseum steering-group, had identified the work as a priority with SCT’s programme manager Angus Murray. Donald supervised the latest group and was delighted with their efforts.

Donald said: “The volunteers showed great commitment over the two days undertaking physically challenging tasks throughout difficult weather conditions. The finished work is very impressive.”

Jane Collins, an operations manager for Rabbie’s, said: “We are now into our third year of working alongside Staffin Community Trust and everyone within Rabbie’s who has been involved with volunteering has loved it. It’s a great organisation for us to work with and means that we get to give back to the communities and environment we travel through.”

SCT chairman Sandy Ogilvie said: “The Staffin Trust is delighted at the impact of our partnership with Rabbie’s, which shows what can be done when the community and private sector come together. Donald and Highland Council’s contribution to this work has also been key to the positive outcome for local people and visitors.”

SCT would like to thank Garafad crofters and Kilmuir Estate for allowing the repair works to be carried out.

The Skye Ecomuseum is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.