The big push to Mend Our Mountains has started

Posted by Inigo Atkin on 13/03/2018
Defying drizzle: a great turnout for MOM on the Great Ridge. Photo: Carey Davies

After months of hard work behind the scenes, Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million launched to the public at Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) last weekend, with a variety of successful events and promotions over the weekend to show what the campaign is all about.

If you somehow haven’t heard of the campaign yet (where have you been?!), Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a year-long appeal to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital path repair projects within the UK’s entire family of 15 National Parks. 

The official launch event took place on Friday 9 March and generated a big crowd. Over 100 people turned out to listen to contributions from BMC Ambassador Mary-Ann Ochota, BMC hill walking officer and campaign lead Carey Davies, and several others. The event was a big success and was followed by a special mountain film screening.

Then on Saturday more than 30 walkers took the opportunity to put the ‘mountain’ in Mend Our Mountains. Walkers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts came out and braved the elements in the Peak District to walk the length of the Great Ridge – where Mend Our Mountains will be helping to repair damaged paths around Back Tor.

Despite an initially very grey sky, walkers were treated to beautiful views across Edale and Hope valleys during the walk, and had the opportunity to listen to our Mend Our Mountains team, as well as local experts who will be working on the Great Ridge project. Most importantly, a fantastic pub lunch was enjoyed by all at the end!

The BMC provided headline sponsorship for ShAFF and the Mend Our Mountains campaign was on show throughout the weekend, as thousands of outdoor enthusiasts descended on the Showroom Cinema to get their fill of adrenaline-fuelled adventure films.

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a national coalition of organisations and projects - they are all in inspiring locations and they all need a boost from the public to be completed. The appeal is run in conjunction with a UK-wide coalition of National Parks and other organisations, and headline sponsorship is generously provided by Cotswold Outdoor and Snow + Rock.

Mend Our Mountains ShAFF branding in action. Photo: Tamaris Higham 

The appeal is about more than just tidying up a few muddy paths – it is about protecting the health and integrity of places which are hugely important to many people. Find out how you can do your bit.

READ: 7 ways to make a difference for the mountains 

 

 


Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is the new BMC campaign to raise £1 million to repair paths across the UK's 15 National Parks.

If you love the outdoors, we're asking you to support your favourite mountain by donating to Mend Our Mountains. You can donate online here.

 

WATCH: Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million 


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3
18/03/2018
Can I be the only BMC member to think this well-intentioned campaign is misguided?

I'm passionate about protecting the environment, and preserving those qualities that make wild places special. I've been walking in the British hills for nearly 50 years, so I recognise that I've probably contributed to path erosion as much as anyone. I believe that the current fetish for over-engineered paths is not the way forward, though. Take the photograph above, showing before and after pictures up Ringing Roger. The repaired path looks every bit as intrusive in it's way, with harsh man-made steps jarring against the natural. Worse, it will be much harder on the legs than the path it replaces, particularly in descent. People will (quite reasonably) leave the path, creating more erosion, not less. Who will be able to blame them? You only get one set of knees!

This has been played out up and down the country for years. The character of paths has been ruined by these interventions. A few years ago I witnessed people ascending the Llanberis Path. A compacted gravel portion of the path, where the gradient was shallow, had been replaced by a stone flagged path to the side of the original. As I sat and watched, everybody chose the gravel path to walk on. In this instance, the 'repair' appeared to be utterly pointless (as well as useless) because the original gravel path was in a good condition. In the Lake District we have seen bridleways repaired in such a manner as to render them no longer suitable for horses or any but the most skilled mountain bikers.

Evidently repairs are needed in places, a light touch is required; just the bare minimum amount of remedial work that is necessary. Occasionally, the BMC gets things wrong... ...I believe that the MoM campaign is one of those things.
20/03/2018
In response to Jen Mason. I am one of two volunteer hill walking rep.s for BMC Peak Area. If I might give a slightly different view. I'm very familiar with the Ringing Roger path, the subject of the before and after pic.s in the article. As presented they perhaps don't fully convey the state of the path before repair and the extent of the damage. The section of path repaired as a consequence of Mend Our Mountains 1 was in a terrible state, a deep eroded trench and rain gutter, maybe as much as 6 metres wide, full of loose rubble, deteriorating and spreading as walkers tried to find a manageable way down, eating into the surrounding moorland year-on-year. This was certainly just as hard on the joints to negotiate as any engineered path I've experienced. This is a honey-pot route from a very popular Peak District destination (Edale). The repaired path section, whilst an engineered stone pitched path, is very well done (Peak District Nat. Park chose a very good and experienced contractor who did a lovely job) and I've found it quite comfortable to walk on, both up or down. When I watched people use it for a while at the end of last year they were all sticking to the new path by choice on that occasion. It's only 1 to 1.5 metres wide and as such is indeed allowing a significant area of previously damaged moorland to recover. The result is a much improved area of moorland and a far less intrusive path line with a good chance of withstanding many years of the heavy hammer that it will inevitably receive. I believe it highly likely that people will continue to prefer this new path to walking on surrounding sensitive area beside it. I hope this might give Jen and those who have similar concerns a little confidence that maybe the project work supported by Mend Our Mountains may not be quite as misguided as Jen fears.
3) Carey Davies(staff comment)
21/03/2018
Hi Jen,

Thanks for your comment.

It is true that upland path work done poorly can fail to address the problem of erosion, or even make it worse. Many of us can point to examples. But good upland path work is essential, and has the potential to protect and enhance the uplands and their biodiversity.

It is true that a built path can represent an intrusion into a 'natural' environment - but so can a 30 metre (or more) wide erosion scar, which is what can develop without them in the most popular places.

The best upland path work strikes the correct balance between being sufficiently resilient to cope with pressure while simultaneously blending sensitively into the landscape. The point where this balance is struck depends on a wide range of factors, but the main one is usage. In areas which see relatively little foot traffic a 'light touch' is possible, but in the most heavily walked areas, more robust - and costly - forms of intervention are often necessary. The projects supported by Mend Our Mountains are generally in the latter camp, on places which many of us enjoy and treasure - Scafell Pike, Cadair Idris, the Great Ridge, Whernside and so on. The key is to ensure that whatever has to be done is better than what existed before it.

All projects supported by Mend Our Mountains are held to a set of quality criteria designed to achieve that. This criteria is best outlined in the 'Mending Our Ways' guidance produced by the British Upland Footpath Trust, which the BMC was integrally involved in. This carries much greater detail on the points I have made above and I strongly recommend reading it to gain an insight into the sort of work supported by Mend Our Mountains. You can download it here: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/mending-our-ways-managing-upland-paths

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