Steall Gorge footpath closed after major rockfall

Path in Glen Nevis shut from 14 September 2016 for 2-5 weeks

Following a serious rockfall from the slopes above the Nevis Gorge overnight on 13-14 September, the John Muir Trust has closed the Steall Gorge path in the interests of public safety, pending remedial work, which could take between two and five weeks.

Although the damage to path is less serious than initially feared, there is a significant amount of debris on the path, including large and unstable blocks of stone. More seriously, tens of tonnes of loose boulders remain scattered above the footpath, some entangled with fallen trees, others precariously perched on the Meall Cumhann cliff, 400m above the path where the rockfall started.

This Trust has already begun the process of having the landscape thoroughly surveyed with a view to clearing away any unstable debris.

This will be a complex operation, requiring a team with rope access qualifications to deal with the upper slope. It will also involve the removal of loose boulders from the woodland area around the footpath, where some loose boulders are caught in the branches of trees. Some fallen trees will also need to be removed or stabilised.

Alison Austin, the John Muir Trust’s Nevis Land Manager, said: “The damage to the footpath is not extensive, but we will need to bring specialised contractors to remove substantial quantities of debris from the path to remove any potential dangers to the public.

“The incident has forced us to close the path for the time, but we are in working flat out to make sure that the work is carried out as speedily as possible. It is unlikely to be reopened within the next fortnight and it could take until late October before we can give it the all-clear.

“Unfortunately, the closure will affect the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace which is taking place this weekend. We have been working closely with the organisers to minimise the ecological impact of the event, and to provide logistical and safety support, but the event will now have to be re-routed.

“In the meantime, we have provided advice on an alternative route for experienced hillwalkers, including grid references. We apologise for any inconvenience, but we all understand that the forces of nature can be powerful and beyond human control.

To access the mountains or paths beyond Steall, you can ascend to the bealach north of Meall Cumhann at GR NN178700, drop down into Coire Guibhsachan and descend to Steall Ruin at GR NN188688. Please note that there is no path and this route should only be used by experienced hillwalkers with map and compass.

“The work to restore safety on the Steall Gorge path is expected to be expensive, and comes at a time when we are embarking on other major footpath restoration projects in the Skye Cuillin and on Suilven in Sutherland.”

Anyone interested in donating to the John Muir Trust’s Wild Ways footpath appeal can go to or phone us on 01796 470080.