Leave no trace: the Real 3 Peaks Challenge

Posted by Peter Burnside on 28/09/2018
Volunteers ready for a day cleaning up the Peak District! Photo: Real3Peaks Challenge
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Over the past five years, 2.4 tonnes of litter has been removed from mountains by the Real 3 Peaks Challenge – a deep clean of our popular mountain summits – and this year it’s looking to go even bigger! Find out how you can join the action this October.

What is the Real3Peaks Challenge?

The aim of the Real3Peaks Challenge is to increase awareness of the ‘Leave no Trace’ or ‘Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ ethic when walking in our hills and mountains in the UK (and beyond).  It’s not only for our three most popular mountains, but for all our ‘wild’ and beautiful upland places.

This year, not only do we have the ‘Big 3’ (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Yr Wyddfa/Snowdon) but also Lochnagar, Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Ben Lomond, Goat Fell, Coniston Old Man and areas of the Peak District and North York Moors amongst others.  This is a massive increase on ground we’re covering, including all the high ground in the Cairngorm National Park.  That’s no modest feat! We'll find out after Saturday 13 October 2018 how we all get on...

2.4 tonnes of waste removed so far

We are now starting to find older items that have been hidden or buried for generations. These include historical drink cans (the ones where the ring pull comes right off), thick glass bottles, industrial waste from buildings and even a rubbish stash that looked to be dated from the days of the Summit Hotel and Observatory on Ben Nevis back in the early 20th century!  Each mountain has its own unique story about their development as Victorian tourist destinations, including Snowdon's railway and summit café and Ben Nevis with its observatory and hotel. 

Over the past five years, approximately 2.4 tonnes of litter has been removed from mountains by the Real3Peaks Challenge in less than a week of volunteer action. Broken down as follows:

October 2013 – 265kg
Cleared off the major routes on Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.
 
October 2014 – 423kg 
(We now knew where to look!)
 
October 2015 – 513kg
(A monster haul.)
 
October 2016 – 568kg
(Ben Nevis: 267kg – including a toilet, Scafell Pike: 96kg, Snowdon: 205kg)
 
October 2016 – 570kg
(Ben Nevis: 120kg, Scafell Pike: 55kg, Snowdon: 280kg, Lochnager: 13kg, Ben Macdui: 7kg, Ben Lomand: 16kg, Mam Tor & Dovestone: 78kg)

How to join the Real3Peaks Challenge

Please join us to help make our peaks clean again! This year on Saturday 13 October we need volunteers to help us scour the areas. There is also an event on 6 October for the Ben Macdui. All we ask is that you're available for a full hill day, be an independent hillwalker (please note this is not a guided walk – mountain professionals are very welcome too) and be fully prepared for a long descent with lots of banter. If you'd like to join us, then please get in contact using the details in the Facebook post below.

Sponsors

The Real3Peaks Challenge has received generous practical and publicity support from the following organisations. We are very grateful to:
 
Mountain Training Association
The British Mountaineering Council
Mountaineering Scotland
The John Muir Trust
The Highland Council
The National Trust
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia Society
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Keep Wales Tidy

Plus, we cannot forget the (100s of) volunteer walkers and outdoor professionals that have helped on previous events.


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