It has been difficult to get to Croick church and up the strath this week as the road is up to replace an old stone culvert. It is one of two culverts which the Highland Council have required to be replaced before any more timber lorries can run on the road.
This is a recurring problem across the Highlands. Forestry plantations from the 1950s and 60s are now mature and ready for timber extraction. But the road networks are not designed to support heavy timber lorries, with the many of the roads simply laid on peat or soft ground without adequate foundations, or with old bridges and culverts not designed for current lorry weights. And, of course, the Highland Council does not have the funds to upgrade the roads.
Fortunately in this case we were able to access a Scottish Government grant specifically for improving forestry access as this problem affects both ourselves and a neighbouring estate. The grant made the work practical, but we have still had to make a significant contribution to the cost.
As you can see from the photos above, the new culverts are certainly man enough for the job – each section weighs four tonnes. So while the rest of the road may crumble and break we can be sure that the culvert will still be standing.