A Round Up of The Big Clean Up

Big clean up Ben 1

The Real3Peaks challenge was instigated by Mountain Leader and Mountain Training Association member Richard Pyne after taking a group walking on Ben Nevis and realising just how much rubbish was about.

He chose the 3 most popular peaks in the UK; Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon following a particularly busy summer. Richard set out to recruit support and spread his message that “it’s just not acceptable to drop litter or leave rubbish” His project quickly gained momentum and on Saturday 12th October a total of 67 volunteers set out to make a difference and this is how each team got on. Clean up 7

Kelvyn James a fellow MTA member and Mountain leader soon volunteered to organise the Scafell effort and on Sunday he reported this to ITV Borders:

“Yesterday’s clean-up of Scafell Pike went really well. All in all we had 34 volunteers turn out & were able to do a deep clean of the four main routes to the summit. We collected just over 100kg of assorted rubbish from the fells; this ranged from: sweet wrappers, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, tissues, socks, underwear, clothing, broken walking poles, shoes, walking boots, a discarded mountain bike (halfway down a cliff) and a polystyrene headstone. Clean up snowdon 2

Most of this rubbish hadn’t blown away - it had been wedged in nooks & cranny's or weighted down with rocks - it had been a conscious choice to put it there by someone. One volunteer even found a discarded plastic bottle with a dead vole in it.

During the day we stopped & spoke to numerous walkers - all of whom expressed outrage and/or amazement that our actions were necessary - yet the bulging rubbish bags were really evidence enough that not everyone does as they say when they're out on the fells."

Ross Worthington who headed up the Snowdon effort reported:

“17 enthusiastic and well prepared volunteers turned out at 7.45am at the Snowdon Railway station. Unfortunately the weather wasn't playing ball for the train to run so it was onto plan B. We split into 2 teams and headed up on foot along the Watkin Path and PYG Track. Both teams worked extremely hard to get into areas away from the paths, those typical rock outcrops that give shelter for a lunch break. Clean up  4

We spoke to various groups on the way up and down who were all very supportive and even started to pick odd items up themselves which was great! Over 100kgs of litter was collected from both teams, items included broken tents, clothing, ruck sack covers, loads of plastic bottles and even a pair of children’s welly boots!

A sterling effort from everyone involved and a big thank you to all the volunteers, the Snowdon Wardens Helen & Grace for all their assistance, Belinda Fear (MTA Development officer) for supporting the Watkin path team, Chrstine from the Outdoor Partnership and of course to Paul at Hot Aches for donating the downloads to our volunteers.”

And finally here’s Richard himself reporting from the Ben:

Clean up ben 5

“Wow...what a day !!! I think we had the best weather possible. 13 volunteers ranging from age 9 to 79 started out on the Ben track and we recruited 2 others on the way, allowing us to methodically sweep right across the plateau and Summit.

On first glance the mountain looked fairly devoid of rubbish, however it didn't take us long and we were able to fill over 14 rubbish sacks. We even carried out the not so nice task of scouring all known toilet spots turning over a huge amount of rocks and removing lots of tissues.

I would like to say a massive thank you to all involved, absolutely amazing effort, great banter and tremendous fun in the sunshine and would you believe, it got quite competitive!"

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Overall the day was very sociable, lots of new friends were made and there was a great sense of purpose and achievement. As for the hard facts, over a quarter of a ton of rubbish was collected and where possible recycled. The main offenders were plastic bottles, cans, tissues and carefully sealed dog poo bags.

As an ever increasing amount of people venture out into the hills whether for personal enjoyment, as a group, for education or to raise money for a charity it highlights the growing need to educate and get the message across about the importance of looking after the environment and the damage that can be done if we don’t.

If only the litter bugs realised the impact litter has on the environment and that the plastic water bottle or can they stuffed behind a rock will actually outlive them and be there for generations to come spoiling the very thing they set out to enjoy.

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To find out more about enjoying the outdoors responsibly click on the links Below:

Leave no Trace
The Countryside Code
Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Richard would like to thank the John Muir Trust, theSnowdonia Society and the Lake District National Trust who supported the event and continue to do great work looking after our wild places, his fellow MTA members who organised and co-ordinated groups and most of all the volunteers who without them it wouldn't have happened.

Also the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Training Association The BBC, ITV and Grough for helping to promote the event.
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