Ecology notes for the New Trail Races
Ecology Notes 2019
The Skyline Scotland Trail Races follow routes that pass through some distinctive upland wildlife habitats, including areas of valuable ancient semi-natural woodland. These habitats are characterised by Birch dominated deciduous woodland on steep, rocky terrain and within steep sided ravines. Ground conditions in these areas prevent grazing and allow woodland trees to regenerate naturally. Other woodland species within these habitats include Oak, Rowan, Hazel, Ash and Wych Elm.
The fantastic trails around Kinlochleven ©No Limits Photography
Tree growth in these areas maintains damp woodland habitats that are shaded by woodland tree canopies. These create ideal conditions for the survival of mosses, liverworts and other plants that grow ion the woodland floor and that colonise tree stems. These features combine to create a distinctive habitat type known as temperate rain forest, and is characteristic of Scotland’s western Atlantic margin. The route taken by the Loch Eilde Mòr and Three Mealls trails pass through one of the best locations for this woodland type in Scotland. The woodland corridor that extends along the River Leven is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, in recognition of its national nature conservation importance.
The Loch Eilde Mòr and Three Mealls trails emerge from the Leven valley woodland tree line onto open hill areas above. These trails pass through sub montane heath, grassland and bog vegetation that is typical of lower altitude hill land within the Mamore hills.
Run through some lovely woodland around Kinlochleven ©No Limits Photography
The Skyline Scotland Trail Races follow routes along existing paths and tracks. Extensive sections of these paths have been defined and reinforced with crushed rock, providing fantastic running conditions. To ensure that disturbance of fragile vegetation habitats is avoided it is important that existing paths and tracks are followed by Trail Race participants.
Short sections of paths followed by the Loch Eilde Mòr and Three Mealls trails are indistinct. A path is always present at these locations, so it would be ideal if participants could take care to follow sections of path as closely as possible to ensure that untrampled hill vegetation and habitats are not disturbed. Also, Trail routes through woodland and open hill areas follow paths that in places zig-zag to negotiate steep gradients. Trail racers should avoid the temptation to cut corners on zig-zag path sections to avoid trampling undisturbed vegetation and habitat.
Trails crossing the open hill above the tree line ©No Limits Photography