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The summit of Ben Nevis has been the venue for countless incredible feats and death-defying sights over the years but the recent appearance of graffiti on the UK’s highest mountain has been met with shock and disappointment.
Fortunately, a small of team from the John Muir Trust, which owns the mountain estate, scaled the ben to remove the green spray-paint from the summit trig point.
The graffiti had been reported towards the end of last summer but, owing to other commitments and the weather, the clean-up was only attempted last Monday (April 29) when John Muir Trust conservation officer Nathan Berrie and property manager Alison Austin were doing routine checks of the mountain.
Mr Berrie said that with a record 160,000 visitors to Ben Nevis last year, maintaining the mountain is getting more challenging.
‘The graffiti highlights a much wider issue with how we value nature and wild places like the summit of Ben Nevis,’ he said. ‘A number of visitors to Ben Nevis are there for the challenge rather than to enjoy its nature and in some cases this results in irresponsible behaviour.’
Concerned about the impact of the anti-graffiti solvent on snow buntings and a number of rare lichens, they only used a small amount and, as a result, the graffiti is not completely removed. However, it is the intention to continually work away at it during one of the group’s monthly volunteer work parties.
Mr Berrie continued: ‘Unfortunately, litter is a common occurrence on the ascent of Ben Nevis and, with the growing use of single-use plastics such as water bottles and baby wipes, we are having to use valuable staff time to manage it.
‘However, it is extremely important to acknowledge the majority of visitors who summit the mountain are responsible and leave no trace. In particular, we would like to thank all the volunteers who come out with us and pick up litter on Ben Nevis throughout the summer months.’
Being the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis is a huge draw for visitors and Mr Berrie says it is very much part of the Fort William community.
‘We believe it is part of all of our history and culture so we encourage more visitors to come along and enjoy what Ben and Glen Nevis have to offer,’ he added.
For those who wish to help the John Muir Trust through volunteering opportunities, get in touch via the trust’s website.