A Model-T Ford, in 1912. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives CC-BY-2.0

A Model-T Ford, in 1912. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives [CC-2.0]

Britain’s highest mountain could yet see the re-enactment of one of its most bizarre events after conservationists softened their stance.

The John Muir Trust, which owns most of Ben Nevis, refused permission for vintage car enthusiasts to fly in a Model-T Ford by helicopter, saying it was against the conservation ethos of the organisation. But now, the trust’s new chairman says he is willing to look at some way of allowing a commemoration of the 1911 event to take place.

The original effort by Henry Alexander to get the car to the 1,344m (4,409ft) summit took five days to achieve, with a combination of driving, pushing and cajoling to get the Ford up the pony track to the summit plateau.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

The plans of car dealer Iain Blyth, a local Model-T enthusiast, envisaged a quicker trip by helicopter as part of a centenary celebration in 2011.

In April, the John Muir Trust put the brakes on the idea.

But today, the trust’s chairman John Hutchison told grough he wanted to try and find a way to let the event go ahead. He said: “We were aware of the importance of the event to the local economy and we were happy to work with the organisers.

“We were concerned about helicoptering in a car, but we have to consider whether the summit of Ben Nevis is really a wild land.

“We have to sit down with the organisers and see whether a solution can be found. We haven’t spoken with the organisers since spring. I know that they were looking at other ways, carrying the car up in pieces, even a cardboard cutout.”

Despite reports elsewhere describing the trust’s position as a u-turn, Mr Hutchison, who lives in the Lochaber area, says this is not so. “We are pleased to sit down and talk about how this thing can be taken forward.

“There is a meeting early in the New Year.”

He confirmed that the Lochaber Mountaineering Club owns two small pieces of the ben, one of which is on the summit but he said there was no clear definition as to where they are.

The mountain was sold to the trust in 2000 by the Fairfax-Lucy family, but the mountaineering club retains the deeds to the small parcels of land. However, Mr Hutchison said they occupy 64 sq feet (6 sq metres) – not enough to land a helicopter on, nor indeed place a Model-T Ford, he said.

He continued: “I am keen as chairman of the John Muir Trust to be very constructive on this. I live locally and it is very clear to me it means a lot to the local community.

The summit of Ben Nevis has seen its share of oddities, including a piano unearthed by JMT volunteers in a cairn three years ago and a wheelchair found buried on the zigzag path leading to the summit.

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