A busy day on Scafell Pike in 2008 as Cumbrians gather to celebrate the upcoming Olympics

A busy day on Scafell Pike in 2008 as Cumbrians gather to celebrate the upcoming Olympics

The summit of England’s highest mountain is becoming a dump, because of inconsiderate walkers.

Large amounts of rubbish are blighting the top of Scafell Pike in the Lake District, much of it from people taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge.

That’s the view of fellwalker Paul Cook who was so angry at the mess he encountered at the 978m (3,209ft) summit cairn, he contacted local mountain rescuers to bring the problem to the attention of the wider public.

The plea prompted members of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team to pose the question whether a climb to the peak was the highlight of the day, or a tip to the trip.

Rubbish on the mountain's summit in pictures taken by Mr Cook

Rubbish on the mountain's summit in a picture taken by Mr Cook

Mr Cook’s pictures, taken on Sunday, show detritus littering the cairn at the top of the mountain, which was gifted by Lord Leconfield to the National Trust in memory of Cumbrians who died in the First World War and which has a commemorative plaque to fallen servicemen at the summit.

Scafell Pike is most commonly climbed by Three Peaks challengers in the middle of the night, as the second summit after Ben Nevis, and before the trip south to Snowdon.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Wasdale MRT said: “We still seem to have problem with people using the summit as a toilet. It’s dark at night so there are plenty of places to go, but when morning comes…”

Challengers, less adept at night navigation and mountaincraft than seasoned hillwalkers, provide much of the rescue team’s business. The nearest weekend to the summer solstice, with the shortest night, is busiest on the mountain, but the whole of June sees large numbers descend on the isolated hamlet of Wasdale Head for the ascent of England’s highest peak.

“In June, up to Monday night, the total numbers of incidents in Wasdale, with 90 per cent on Scafell Pike was13. Four of these were over the solstice weekend,” Mr Warren said.

“The message for walkers and climbers is to prepare properly for the hills. Wear suitable footwear, warm windproof and waterproof clothing; take a map, compass and torch and know how to navigate using the map and compass.

“Technology will only help if it works and you have a good signal and plenty of battery life.  It should be add on and not a replacement for traditional map and compass work.”

Rubbish should be taken from the mountain by visitors, not left at the summit

Rubbish should be taken from the mountain by visitors, not left at the summit

The mountain rescue team chairman added: “Finally, please remember to take all rubbish away with you and respect the summits. Many want to enjoy the tranquillity of the natural environment free from the trappings of the 21st century lifestyle, especially the discarded beer cans, plastic bottles, orange peel and tissues.”

Good practice for those needing to go to the toilet in the outdoors is to dig a hole and bury human waste – an impossibility on Scafell Pike’s rocky summit – and carry out all other waste, including toilet paper and other sanitary products.

Scafell Pike was chosen in August 2008 as the site of the launch of Cumbria’s celebrations as Britain took over the official role as Olympic host. Famed mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington joined fellow Cumbrian, fellrunner Jos Naylor, in hoisting an Olympic flag at the summit.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Mountain rescuers warn: Scafell Pike is not a playground for the inexperienced
  2. Lost Scafell Pike walkers found back at car as rescuers search fell
  3. Woman with head injury rescued from Scafell Pike
  4. Scafell Pike walkers rescued after sheltering in Sty Head stretcher box
  5. Two lost Scafell Pike walkers rescued after spending cold night on fells