This advertising feature is sponsored by our friends at Keela.

Equipment Editor Chris Townsend hears how Keela is putting the paths to our high places on its priority list from its HQ on the east coast of Scotland, and discovers first-hand the importance of durability during intensive path repairs on An Teallach.

Extreme weather events and increasing footfall are just a few factors causing the erosion of many beloved mountain paths, which in turn puts the ecology of surrounding plants and animals – as well as us walkers who are woefully prone to slips and trips – at risk.

Main image: Chris Townsend on the slopes of An Teallach | Credit: James Roddie

It’s almost a year since Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust Scotland launched their campaign, It’s Up To Us, which seeks long-term funding support to mend and maintain mountain paths. As of October 2023, the campaign had raised enough money to begin work on a badly eroded path on An Teallach, one of the most magnificent mountains in Scotland.

Heavy work moving path material - Keela kit

Heavy work moving path material. Credit: James Roddie

On a cool rainy day in early Spring 2024, I visited the site to see how the work was progressing and to talk to the people involved. The day’s work was already underway – and it was quite dramatic. Two mud-spattered men armed with long crowbars and spades were manoeuvring a large boulder, aided by a winch run by others quite a way up the hillside. Shouts went back and forth as the winch slowly eased the boulder into place. The two men were Julian Digby, founder and Director of Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts (CWC), which is carrying out the path work, and Ewan Watson, the new Outdoor Access Projects Officer for the Outdoor Access Trust Scotland (OATS) and a former team leader for Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts.

Keela kit: fit for mending mountains

Scottish outdoor company Keela, founded in 1989, sponsors Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts and provides the tough clothing its team needs for mountain path work in all weather conditions. Ewan says, “Keela’s range of waterproof clothing provides a durable choice for those who are looking for excellent gear that will stand the test of time. Having long been embraced by Scotland’s Mountain Rescue teams, the Munro jacket and salopettes are now widely used by Scotland’s mountain footpath building teams, who have tested it to the limits whilst working in some of the harshest environments in the UK.”

Ewan Watson and a volunteer moving a stubborn boulder

Ewan Watson and a volunteer moving a stubborn boulder. Credit: James Roddie

He added, “Keela focus on making a quality product that is built to last, and this closely aligns with our vision as conservationists seeking to protect Scotland’s iconic mountain landscapes. They have put their money where their mouth is and generously contributed to the ‘It’s Up To Us’ campaign.” Keela also added Cordura reinforced panels to the lower arms on the team’s Munro jackets for an extra bit of protection when they are doing much-needed repairs to our mountain paths.

Chris’ Keela kit choices

Knowing I would be doing a little path work myself and that the forecast was for windy, showery weather I chose the hardwearing Keela Pinnacle waterproof jacket and Scuffer trousers for my day out on An Teallach.

Chris Townsend helping to dig out a new section of path in Keela kit

Chris Townsend helping to dig out a new section of path. Credit: James Roddie

1. Keela Pinnacle jacket

I’ve had the Pinnacle jacket for over two years and gave it ‘Best Buy’ when I reviewed it for The Great Outdoors. It’s well-designed with an excellent wired hood and I’ve found it suitable for use in the worst winter weather due to the thick fabric. It has good pockets too and underarm zips.

Overall, the Pinnacle is a superb, rugged jacket. On this cool, damp, breezy day on the lower slopes of An Teallach, it was ideal, especially when there was a blast of heavy rain and wind.

Keela kit scuffer trousers

The Scuffer trousers. Credit: James Roddie

2. Keela Scuffer trousers

My Scuffer trousers are over four years old and have been worn a great deal, though they don’t show it. I’m impressed enough with their durability to have included them in TGO’s round-up of Kit That Won’t Quit.

Keela Scuffer trousers are made from a thick heavy-duty four-way stretch synthetic fabric. It is rough on the outside but soft inside so they’re comfortable against the skin. The fabric is wind- and water-resistant and very breathable – a necessity when spending the day outdoors doing manual work.

The seat is reinforced and there are big, rubberised patches on the inside of the ankles for protection against crampons and abrasion. The ankles also have short zips and Velcro tabs so they can be adjusted to fit over different types of boots. On the upper sides there are ventilation zips in case of overheating.

Julian Digby explaining path repair techniques (2)

Julian Digby explaining path repair techniques. Credit: James Roddie

Chris’ verdict

Both garments performed well, as expected. Comfortable and protective, they suffered no damage from my attempts at path repair. They need a wash but that’s unavoidable when you’re handling boulders and digging earth on a muddy hillside. Looking at my mud-spattered bright red jacket, I saw why the Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts workers’ clothing is olive and black!

Keela’s Legacy

Keela has a scheme to save garments from landfill. For over 50 years the brand has been restoring worn and damaged garments in its Clothing Hospital, saving it from landfill. Now, with the Legacy Project, Keela is also taking fabric from worn-out garments and turning it into something new, offering discontinued lines, refurbished items and limited runs from spare rolls of fabric.

If an item can’t be saved, Keela sends it to recyclers who shred it and turn it into insulation or something else.

You can learn more about the Keela Legacy Project at

The Keela kit Munro jackets in the wild.

The Keela Munro jackets in the wild. Credit: James Roddie

Why It’s Up to Us to Save Mountain Paths

It’s Up To Us is a campaign by Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland to highlight the urgent need for long-term funding for upland path projects. The first stage of the campaign is to raise £300,000 for the An Teallach path repair as no other funding is available for this popular route on one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains.

Scotland’s hill paths are deteriorating faster than ever before as more people are using them and extreme weather and climate change exacerbate the impact. It’s Up To Us is about asking hillwalkers, mountaineers, outdoor businesses and all who care about Scotland’s hills to give something back.

An Teallach above a cloud inversion

An Teallach above a cloud inversion. Credit: James Roddie

Whilst lottery funding is available for path work on land in public ownership, in national parks and that owned by conservation charities, fundraising is highly competitive. Many paths don’t get funding and it’s not available at all for paths on privately owned land like An Teallach. In the past the EU provided funding, but this is no longer available post-Brexit.

As land campaigner Andy Wightman shows in his latest analysis, 83% of land in rural Scotland is privately owned so most hill paths will be outside the few funding options currently available. Public appeals like the one for An Teallach can only fund a few paths. Proper organised support from government and business is sorely needed.

You can learn more about the importance of paths and the funding gap – and donate if you can – at