I had a lovely day on my local Munro Ben Wyvis it is a magical hill and nowadays busy with so many enjoying it locally. As it is a solitary Munro it is chased down and raced up often on a big trip North by the Munro Baggers. I must have been on this mountain over 50 times it was handy for a quick day out when I was in the RAF Mountain Rescue Team at Kinloss and its wild plateau was excellent for training in winter navigation.
Over 45 years I have seen a change in this and other mountains, the path is now far better its been improved. The boggy ground after the forest now has a great path that ascends nearly all the way to the first summit An Gabar. After this the erosion on the plateau is sadly there for all to see. I have noticed it over the last 10 – 15 years and the grassy plateau has huge paths along it made by many happy feet? I was very lucky to have appreciated the hills when few were on them. Nowadays the paths are everywhere on most hills a huge change and can be seen from the air as I have by helicopter on training and rescues over the years. The popularity of the mountains and the increased use of the wild places is an interesting talking point for the next few years.
Ben Wyvis is is an area of great beauty and of many birds, flowers and wild grasses. There are attempts to halt the erosion by putting mats down to try to encourage growth back. In the really badly eroded areas it will be difficult but it like many hills will be a battle due to popularity of this and other hills. What can we do to help?
The paths are needed and the Path makers are incredible folk who work in all weathers to make the paths better. How are they funded and what can we do to help? Many get so much out of the hills how many put things back ? The Scottish Mountain Trust does great work in this area by funding for various footpaths and environmental issues. The amount they have given from the sale of their publishing is well worth a look on their website.
Many other help in this way through donating to path works and environmental issues. Could you do more, does your Mountaineering club think of donating every year to helping in these areas. Worth a mention at your meetings in clubs and groups. Should the huge Outdoor Industry not pay and environmental tax or should we push them to put something back in from their profits.
We have also to watch our right of access, that we have in Scotland. I have heard more and more about signs going up and access battles going on in many places. The Right of Access was fought for by all parties in the Scottish Government it is unique and most countries in the world are in awe of what we have. This is even the UK where England and Wales are amazed at what we have, try walking in some places down South and see.
Sadly there are signs going up and the odd landowner is trying their hand. Many thing money buys the right to do what you want and defy what we have fought for, We have the Freedom of Access based on mutual respect for all involved.If you get a problem with Access a locked gate etc please report it. Every area has someone responsible in the Council and Mountaineering Scotland who fight our corner are worth contacting even better become a member and help them fight for our rights.
We are so privileged to have such a wonderful country we must look after it and its worth remembering what we have was hard fought for and we must never forget this.
Comments always welcome.
The Work of the Scottish Mountain Trust
Examples of the work of the trust
Below are shown the approximate totals of the grants made by the Trust in its major areas of activity in the period 1990-2017.
|Footpath Construction and Maintenance:||£419,000|
|Core Funding of Mountaineering Council of Scotland:||£215,000|
|Mountaineering Education and Training:||£31,500|
|Mountain Rescue Equipment and Facilities:||£65,000|
|Support of Expeditions:||£32,500|
|Renovation of Club Huts:||£189,000|
It is worth noting that the excellent magazine Scottish Mountaineer has an article on Restoring the Wyvis plateau I am just catching up with all my reading after being away! It’s a great piece written by Davie Black the Access officer.