The Real Three Peaks clean-up squad on Ben Nevis's summit

The Real Three Peaks clean-up squad on Ben Nevis's summit

Oddball discoveries on Britain’s honeypot high mountains have included an octopus, a piano and the infamous maroon Vauxhall Frontera on Snowdon’s summit.

Volunteer litter pickers can add another strange find to the list of items deposited on hill summits: a dead vole in a plastic bottle.

The macabre object was one of the many items collected by a group of 67 volunteers who set out to clean up Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike at the weekend.

A false headstone and a mountain bike were among the rubbish found by the volunteers in an exercise dubbed the Real Three Peaks challenge by organiser Richard Pyne, a Mountain Leader, who took to Ben Nevis with a clean-up squad.

It had the support of the Mountain Training Association and fellow members Kelvyn James and Ross Worthington led similar teams up Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

The 34 people who ascended Scafell Pike collected an incredible 100kg of rubbish. Mr James said the haul included sweet wrappers, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, tissues, socks, underwear, clothing, broken walking poles, shoes, walking boots, a discarded mountain bike – halfway down a cliff – and the polystyrene headstone.

He said: “Most of this rubbish hadn’t blown away. It had been wedged in nooks and crannies or weighted down with rocks; it had been a conscious choice to put it there by someone.

“One volunteer even found a discarded plastic bottle with a dead vole in it.

“During the day we stopped and spoke to numerous walkers, all of whom expressed outrage or amazement that our actions were necessary. Yet the bulging rubbish bags were really evidence enough that not everyone does as they say when they’re out on the fells.”

Ross Worthington said 17 volunteers originally planned to go up Snowdon via the mountain railway.

He said: “Unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing ball for the train to run so it was onto plan B.

“We split into two teams and headed up on foot along the Watkin Path and Pyg Track. Both teams worked extremely hard to get into areas away from the paths, those typical rock outcrops that give shelter for a lunch break.

“We spoke to various groups on the way up and down who were all very supportive and even started to pick odd items up themselves which was great.”

The Snowdon squad picked up more than 100kg of litter, including broken tents, clothing, rucksack covers, plastic bottles and even a pair of children’s wellingtons.

The Ben Nevis crew was blessed with perfect weather with 13 volunteers aged between nine and 79 tackling the tourist track up the mountain. Two others joined the group and the team made a sweep of the summit plateau.

Mr Pyne said: “On first glance the mountain looked fairly devoid of rubbish. However it didn’t take us long and we were able to fill over 14 rubbish sacks.

“We even carried out the not so nice task of scouring all known toilet spots turning over a huge amount of rocks and removing lots of tissues.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to all involved, absolutely amazing effort, great banter and tremendous fun in the sunshine and would you believe, it got quite competitive.”

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