Britain’s most beloved mountains are starting to feel the strain from the popularity of events such as the national three peaks challenge. Yet for many people, the adventure of tackling Britain’s highest peaks provides an important first step into the great outdoors and our uplands.
Tomorrow (9 October 2014), the BMC will host a conference at Rheged in Penrith, Cumbria, to explore the benefits, complexities and issues of charity and challenge events and will aim to bring together best practice to help maximise the benefits and minimise potential impacts.
Over 60 delegates will learn how land managers including National Parks, the National Trust and the John Muir Trust are currently managing challenge and charity events. Presentations will also be given by large scale event organiser the Original Mountain Marathon and outdoor provider RAW Adventures who take groups into the mountains to take on team, corporate and charity challenges in a responsible manner. The conference will also hear from the Institute of Fundraising, the Snowdonia Society and the Lake District footpath and bridleway conservation body Fix the Fells.
There are now endless opportunities to raise money for charity or achieve personal goals by tackling adventurous challenges, but what are the real impacts of this and how widely are they felt? These are the types of questions the conference will seek to address.
BMC access & conservation officer Rob Dyer said “We don’t want to discourage people from taking part in challenge events in the uplands but as many participants are not regular mountain-goers we are increasingly hearing of problems. Our advice to first timers would be to ensure that you are properly prepared and where possible choose to go with a group of mountain professionals who understand the complexities of the mountain environment.”
The conference will explore the cost and benefits of challenge events in the outdoors – from the benefits to the local economy and the opportunities for people to explore our uplands, to the pressures on local services and the fragile environment. Litter, erosion, defecation, traffic, noise, disturbance to local residents, and trails of abandoned glow sticks are just some of the issues linked to popular challenge events. There is also evidence of increased call outs to the mountain rescue services which could be avoided with better planning and preparation.
Elfyn Jones, BMC access officer for Wales said: “We’re looking forward to the day’s discussions and drawing together all the best practice to help inform our advice to organisers and participants of these events.
“We understand that charity and personal challenge events can also raise money for good causes and can bring benefits to the local economy as well as being a great way for people to explore our mountains and their unique landscapes. More needs to be done, however, to educate the public on the potential impact they can have and to develop a mechanism whereby visitors can give something back to ensure the mountains are protected and conserved.”
The BMC’s good practice guide is set to be published later this year.
WATCH: an inspiring short film exploring the question 'why walk?' by Ben Winston on BMC TV
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Notes to editors
For further information please contact Cath Flitcroft (BMC Access Policy Officer) on 07932 801351 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Elfyn Jones (BMC access officer for Wales) on 07554 998910 / email@example.com
Images are available for media use in our Flickr gallery. Please credit RAW Adventures.
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the national representative body for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in England and Wales and is recognised as such by government. The BMC is committed to promoting the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers and good practice in all activities related to these pursuits.
Download the BMC conference programme. The BMC’s access conference is a biennial event. Previous conferences include Risk, Liability & Outdoor Adventure: an event for users, land owners and managers (2012) and Understanding the Uplands: shaping the future for recreation and conservation (2010).
The BMC publishes a series of green guides to give information and advice on how to minimise your impact in the hills and at crags. These include green guides to the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the uplands in general.
The Real3Peaks Challenge is an organised deep clean (litter pick) of Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis. This year’s event took place on 4 October 2014. Find out more on the Real3Peaks Challenge Facebook page.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance’s recently published Reconomics report highlights the economic impact of outdoor recreation.