Walkers negotiate a bog at the start of the Ben Vane path

Walkers negotiate a bog at the start of the Ben Vane path

Hillgoers are being asked to spare the price of a bobble hat – to improve conditions underfoot on two of Scotland’s mountains.

Mountaineering Scotland is seeking to raise £100,000 for its part of the Britain-wide Mend Our Mountains campaign.

The organisation is joining with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland in a bid to restore eroded footpaths on Ben Vane in the Arrochar Alps and Beinn a’ Ghlò in the southern Cairngorms.

Mountaineering Scotland said: “With hundreds of thousands of people enjoying walking and climbing in Scotland’s mountains every year, campaigners hope to hit their target over the next eight months by encouraging the nation’s hillwalkers to donate small – whether that be the value of a new pair of hiking socks or a new bobble hat.

“The path up Carn Liath, the most accessible of Beinn a’ Ghlò’s summits, has long been a highly visible scar upon a hillside which has a high nature conservation value, and is a prominent eyesore even from the A9, one of Scotland’s main transport arteries linking the Central Belt with Inverness and beyond.

“Ben Vane remains a popular mountain in the Arrochar Alps west of Loch Lomond, despite a badly eroded summit path which is peatbog in its lower section and higher up turns into a loose, stony streambed under heavy rain or a rubble chute in the dry.

“With increasing demand for access to Scotland’s hills and mountains coinciding with pressure upon public funding for countryside services and access maintenance in many areas, there is a growing need for hill-goers to contribute towards repairs and improvements to safeguard mountain access for themselves and future generations, especially in well loved and well used locations.”

The appeal is part of a wider campaign Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million co-ordinated by the British Mountaineering Council south of the border, with the ambitious aim of raising £1m for path projects across England, Wales and Scotland by October 2018.

 The eroded path on Beinn a’ Ghlò

The eroded path on Beinn a’ Ghlò

David Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “More and more people are taking to the hills, enjoying our wonderful landscapes and the health and wellbeing benefits hillwalking brings, but increased use has an impact on the mountains.

“Path building and restoration projects on more popular routes such as Ben Vane and Beinn a’ Ghlò aren’t aimed at making life easier for walkers: these are important conservation projects which will prevent further erosion and help to protect the hills for future generations.

“Hillwalking isn’t necessarily an expensive activity and many people want to find ways to put something back into the mountains. We’re not asking for great amounts. If everyone gave just a little we’d be able to reach that £100,000 target to complete this vital work.”

Mountaineering Scotland members have been mobilising their friends, family and work colleagues to get involved. One teacher from a school in Musselburgh with a historic connection to Beinn a’ Ghlò and a strong tradition of hillwalking and wilderness activities is planning a range of fundraising events, including taking his pupils on a walk up the Cairngorms peak.

Oats chief executive Dougie Baird said: “The combination of Scotland’s cold, wet windy weather, steep hillsides, friable soil and fragile vegetation cover makes the upland areas particularly susceptible to erosion from even a relatively small number of users.

Ben Vane

Ben Vane

“Intervention is necessary to ensure that continued access to these areas is not at the expense of the habitat and landscape which makes them special and attractive places to visit. But maintaining these routes takes money and so we are asking people to dig deep and support the Mend Our Mountains campaign.”

More details are on the Mountaineering Scotland website.

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