A co-ordinated ‘deep clean’ for the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales is planned for a third year running on Saturday 10 October. Known as The Real 3 Peaks Challenge, here's how you can join in the action in each location.
In 2013, while working on Ben Nevis, Mountain Instructor Rich Pyne was shocked by the amount of waste he found. Expressing his concern through social media, he soon found his thoughts were shared across the outdoor community. The UK's 'Three Peaks' were becoming a dumping ground for near industrial quantities of rubbish. That was then.
Determined to do something about this, a group of mountain instructors created the 'Real 3 Peaks Challenge' to help tackle what seemed to be an increasing litter problem on some of the UK’s most popular mountains. With the help of an army of volunteers, in a single day in 2013, they collected over a quarter of a tonne of rubbish from the three mountains. The event attracted local and national media attention and helped kick start the ongoing debate about how we encourage increased participation in outdoor activities in the hills, but at the same time protect these special places for everyone to enjoy.
2014 saw teams collect 95kg of litter from Scafell Pike, 78kg from Ben Nevis and 400 plastic bottles (amongst other items) from Snowdon, alone. It takes about 450 years for plastic to biodegrade…so what will happen to that lone bottle if no-one picked it up? The R3P Teams all wish they didn’t have to ‘litter pick’ but until society can support the behavioral change of a great many people – what do we do, they ask?
We continue to try and educate and raise awareness of the need to underpin event organisation with the mass message of leaving the mountains as we find them, even if you’re racing against the clock to complete an event in a certain time. Rich Pyne has calculated that since the first R3P in 2013, a total of 688kg of discarded items has been collected from the three mountains.
What will 2015 bring? A decrease in items found would be very positive.
Now in its third year, Saturday 10 October is the date for your diary. Volunteers are being asked to help clear as many items as possible from the three peaks, some are left by mistake, some are hidden on purpose. And some items are pretty unsavory in nature (yes, that’s right…human waste can be a problem, too).
It’s worth stressing that this event is not a guided walk – volunteers must be capable of getting themselves to each summit, in any weather, and more importantly back down again whilst carrying bags of litter.
To help out, please contact the relevant coordinator for each mountain.
Kelvyn James of Mountain Services is the coordinator for England's highest peak. Last year saw three teams cleaning rubbish from paths to the summit from Wasdale, Seathwaite & Langdale. Kelvyn says “It’s quite a challenge coordinating the various routes up Scafell Pike, so the more volunteers the better. If people can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org confirming that you’re coming along, AND which starting point you'd like to join, then we can add you to the volunteers list.”
Rich Pyne from Rich Mountain Experiences will be looking after the Ben Nevis leg – the highest mountain is a challenge in itself. The route is relatively straightforward but long – a 12 mile round trip – whilst carrying bin bags. Volunteers are welcome and if numbers are high along the Tourist Track, other paths can be tackled such as the area below the north face or through Glen Etive. Please remember, The Ben is definitely not a stroll in the park and some areas can be extremely rough underfoot.
Contact: If you are interested in helping on The Ben, please email Rich at email@example.com so he can get an idea of numbers.
Kate and Ross Worthington from RAW Adventures are coordinating efforts on Snowdon – with the assistance of a group of volunteers from the Snowdonia Society too. Main paths are looked after well by Snowdonia National Park full time and volunteer wardens, but there are also ‘hard to reach’ areas where litter and waste collect due to wind/rain transfer and bivvi/picnic sites. The group on Snowdon is greatly supported by Snowdonia National Park, Snowdon Mountain Railway and the Snowdonia Society.
Contact: If you’re interested in volunteering please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more
For more information and to follow the latest news you can follow the Real 3 Peaks Challenge on Facebook
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
WATCH: the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign film