You Can Make a Difference on the Real 3 Peaks Challenge

© Real 3 Peaks Challenge

The Real 3 Peaks is an event designed to redress some of the negative impact of the popular UK Three Peaks charity challenge. On the same day teams of volunteers litter pick on each of the three national high points, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, among the most visited, and littered, mountains in the country.

Now in its third year, the annual event this year takes place 10th October, and places are still available for anyone interested in taking part. For more info the Real 3 Peaks Facebook page would be a good place to start.

You find all sorts on Britain's national high points. Did they hop back down?
© Real 3 Peaks Challenge

'We are looking to have around 30 volunteers for the Ben' says Rich Pyne, founder of the event and organiser of the Ben Nevis end of the clear-up. 

'We will be looking to remove the usual stuff that gets left behind: plastic bottles and their seals, banana skins and orange peel, plastic bags, foil, discarded camping equipment (you would be surprised) and as much tissue as possible.'

'The litter picking has been going on all season, with all local Guides collecting as they go, plus organised picking by the land managers. The Ben is looking quite clean in comparison to what it was three years ago, but as we now know exactly where to look I'm sure we will find plenty stashed away.'

On last year's Real 3 Peaks day 17 rubbish sacks of refuse were cleared from Ben Nevis, but this year Rich is hoping for fewer.

'This will' he says 'reflect the positive awareness we have been promoting since my event started.'

'I received a nice email from The John Muir Trust last year, thanking us for our efforts with the Real 3 Peaks Challenge. Knowing that this event was happening, they could reroute their volunteers to spend time with essential footpath maintenance rather than picking litter.'

Rich is also aiming to tally up the total amount of rubbish lifted through the season by everyone that works and volunteers on Ben Nevis, to establish an accurate picture of how much is dropped.

Down in Wales, meanwhile, they are hoping that more than 50 volunteers will show up to help.

'On each mountain we are working ever closer with other local environmental charities to increase the positive impact of the day' says Snowdon co-ordinator Ross Worthington.

'Here in Snowdonia we have teamed up with the Snowdonia Society who work on similar concepts throughout the year, and again we are being supported by local Mountain Leaders. We have support and endorsement from Mountain Training too, the association for Mountain Leaders and other Mountain Training award holders.'

'The last three years have seen an increase in the number of visitors across all mountain areas in the UK and the 'big three' is no exception. That said we believe that a positive no-littering message has been getting through in the press, and promoted by Mountain Leaders. I think most people would agree we are slowly getting the message across and the Real 3 Peaks days are now concentrating 'off the beaten track' to give each mountain a deep clean!'

'On Snowdon our litter pickers have made some very odd finds indeed. Each year we are able to clothe a person from head to toe with found items, which we donate to clothing banks. There is still a ridiculous amount of biodegradable waste like banana skins, nut shells and orange peel which take months or even years to fully break down.' 

'We've had benches, golf clubs, barbecue sets, and even a car (remember the joker dumping the 4x4 on Snowdon?). But the strangest thing of all was an octopus on Scafell Pike!' 

  • In an attempt to mitigate some of the parking, littering, path erosion and toileting problems associated with the mass Three Peaks phenomenon, the organisations responsible for the management of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike earlier this year launched a joint website with advice for teams taking part - see here


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