Peak District Pick & Play takes place near Hathersage on Sunday 12th May. This popular annual event combines rubbish collecting with free outdoor activities for all participating volunteers. The idea is that teams spend half a day hunting litter, and the other half having fun.
"With many millions of annual visitors and covering an area of 550 square miles, the infrastructure of the Peak District National Park is always stretched - and litter is a very significant, visible and growing problem" says event organiser Paul Lewis.
Only today, the Peak District National Park Authority, who manage 45 car parks and seven visitor centre and cycle hire facilities, said that more than 50 tonnes of general waste and 10 tonnes of recyclable waste is collected by its teams in the National Park each year.
The cost of dealing with rubbish at National Park Authority-managed sites has been estimated at almost £37,000 a year.
National Park rangers say that simple measures such as visitors taking home what they bring into the National Park would mean that money could instead be spent on looking after the countryside.
A Sheffield Hallam University graduate study undertaken in 2018, suggested that one in four items of plastic-based litter observed by visitors in the Peak District were single-use plastic bottles, with around one in five items being crisp or sweet wrappers, or plastic bags. Over 80% of visitors said they had seen plastic litter at some point during their visit.
A National Park spokesperson said: "Whilst our Rangers work hard to keep the National Park tidy for visitors and safe for wildlife, we also need people to help by taking their own rubbish home whenever possible.
"The Peak District is Britain's first National Park, and should be somewhere every visitor is proud and excited to visit.
"What our data and surveys seem to suggest, is that many items being disposed of in bins or discarded as litter - such as single-use plastics and wrappers - are materials that can easily and cleanly be taken out of the National Park by visitors themselves."
Peak District Pick and Play is one initiative that is seeking to turn the situation arond. For the last five years Castleton based outdoor activity company Peak Mountaineering has teamed up with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers to run this unique annual event, which aims both to help alleviate the problem and to educate people about the issue of rubbish in the park.
In return for their litter picking efforts, participants are offered a choice of supervised outdoor activities. The event has grown over the years, and in 2018 140 people managed to collect a massive 120kg of rubbish in just a few hours. Paul hopes for more this year.
Attendees will spend either a morning or an afternoon collecting litter and the other part of the day enjoying an outdoor activity. These include climbing, abseiling, navigation training, a guided ranger walk, weaselling (a children's activity that's a bit like above ground caving) and a bushcraft session. But if you'd rather just spend all day collecting litter, that's fine too.
"The event always has a friendly and inclusive feel and everyone including families, singles, groups and couples are equally welcome" says Paul. "Please come and help the UK's oldest and busiest national park."
Sponsorship from local firm Rab ensures the activities are free. All activities are run by qualified instructors who give up their time for free, and for this Peak Mountaineering relies on the support of many Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) and Mountain Training Association (MTA) members. The event also relies on the assistance of the Peak Park Ranger Service and the National Trust. Other brands including Nikwax, Lowe Alpine, Osprey and Hydroflask provide products for a lunch time raffle.
The event runs from Surprise View Car Park (on the Sheffield to Hathersage road near Longshaw Estate) where free parking is available. Registration will start at 9.15am and the activities kick off at 10am. The event runs until 4pm.
The use of public transport is also strongly encouraged and the car park is on a main bus route. Lifts can be provided from the local train station, and safe bike storage can also be arranged.
Litter collection equipment and all technical activity equipment will be provided; participants only need to bring suitable clothing and footwear plus a packed lunch (water and free hot drinks will be available).
- To register for the day, fill out a booking form here