The BMC have announced a major new campaign to raise money for path repairs on some the country's best-loved (and heavily-used) hills. Launching mid March, Mend Our Mountains will use crowdfunding in a bid to raise £100K direct from hill-goers.
'More people experiencing the outdoors is good news, improving our collective health, enriching our culture, encouraging engagement with nature, and keeping rural economies alive' said Carey Davies, BMC hill walking officer and joint Mend Our Mountains campaign coordinator.
'But it puts pressure on the landscape.'
'One of the biggest and most expensive problems to manage is erosion. In the past in popular places like the Yorkshire Dales, some of these scars caused by countless feet have grown to up to 30 metres, motorways of damage as wide as parts of the M1.'
'To manage this problem needs effective intervention, usually through the construction of paths, which help to heal the mountain landscape and protect habitats and wildlife. But they are not cheap to construct. And in these straitened times, where austerity is the mantra, money is in increasingly short supply.'
In collaboration with National Park Authorities across England and Wales, the BMC have chosen eight different path projects for a share of the money:
- Snowdon: The notoriously eroded section at the top of the Watkin Path just below the summit.
- Scafell Pike: The most direct route from Wasdale is in need of some remedial work. This sees around 100,000 pairs of feet per year, to say nothing of the recent flooding.
- Kinder Scout: The heavily damaged path below Ringing Roger.
- Ingleborough: The Swine Tail, just below the summit. The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge is conservatively estimated to raise 5 million pounds annually for charity, but there's an impact from the 60,000 people per year who walk it. Apparently it costs £28 per metre to maintain the 42 kilometres of the Three Peaks.
- Brecon Beacons: The path above the Neuadd Reservor is part of a magnificent circular walk that takes in the highest peak in southern Britain, Pen y Fan, but it has deteriorated badly over the last 20 years. Path repair in the most remote parts of the Brecon Beacons can cost up to £170 per metre.
- North York Moors: Lyke Wake Walk - As well as damaging the sensitive surrounding moorland, the erosion on a section of path near the Yorkshire coast at Burn Howe Rigg threatens to undermine ancient monuments, including possibly the oldest stone cross in northern England.
- Exmoor: Long Chains Combe, an ancient trading route through one of the most remote parts of Exmoor, has become badly eroded through a combination of high usage and recent heavy rainfall.
- Dartmoor: A spectacular ancient path in the high reaches of Dartmoor used annually by 18,000 walkers 6000 mountain bikers, but with erosion that threatens the precious peat bog surrounding it. This is a 4km long project which will cost about £40 – 50 per metre.
The BMC's solution to the cash shortfall and the thing that makes this campaign different is, they say, the crowdfunding element. In exchange for their support donors will receive a reward including experiences donated by outdoor personalities such as Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott CBE and Julia Bradbury, three of the big names backing the campaign.
Everyone who makes a donation will be able to choose whether it goes straight to an individual project of their choice, or into an overall pot which will be split between the eight targets.
Some of the projects, like Snowdon’s Watkin Path and Kinder Scout’s Ringing Roger, will only go ahead if their specific fundraising target is met.
'Together we can make a difference' urged Carey.
'If the whole outdoor public comes together we can provide a financial lifeline for these vital environmental projects at a time of need. But to do that we need your help. Please spread the word as far as you can before the campaign launch on 14 March.'
Mend our Mountains will go live on 14 March and run for two months.