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Cleaner hills for winter

Friday 1st November 2019, 12:21pm

The 7th Real3Peaks Challenge was the biggest yet.

The annual mountain clean-up saw about 200 volunteers pick up 679.4 kilogrammes of waste from 30 locations across Britain’s mountain areas.

The event took place on Saturday 12th October, with the twin aims of giving the hills a ‘deep clean’ before the onset of winter, and of raising the awareness of the general public of the work already being undertaken by local and international charities, and volunteer groups who frequently have clean up events, whether down at the local park or cleaning the oceans of plastic.

Initiated by Rich Pyne, and supported by Kelvyn James and Kate and Ross Worthington from the very beginning, the awareness event originally saw teams of volunteers climbing to the summits of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, clearing as much as they could from the summit areas and from the popular routes used.  However recent years have seen the number of mountains greatly expanded.

Rich said: “I’d led groups on the top of Ben Nevis in winter before, but I was up there with a group in the summer of 2013 and I was appalled at the amount of litter I saw. I started filling a bag and ended up carrying down three kilogrammes of rubbish that day.  I had been grumbling about the mess on the way down till somebody said why didn’t I do something about it? So I did. Who would have known what would happen after seven years.”

Since 2013, The Real3Peaks Challenge has gone from strength to strength, each year attracting more locations and volunteers to join this awareness campaign.

                           2013- 265 kgs

                           2014- 423 kgs

                           2015- 513 kgs

                           2016- 568 kgs

                           2017- 570 kgs

                           2018- 611 kgs

                           2019- 679 kg

  Total to date - 3,629 kgs (7,984lbs)

The most common items amongst the hauls of rubbish are tissues, tampons, fruit skin and peel, plastic bottles (488 on Snowdon alone), cans, plastic bags and packets, sandwich wrappers, dog poo bags, cigarette ends, pistachio shells (Becoming more common), discarded walking boots, socks, underpants, nappies…

The more unusual finds include an ornamental Windmill, a bag of rotting fish and a four-foot-high wooden cross from Ben Nevis’ summit.

The trend for this year’s most common find seems to be tissues and other toileting products. These have been in abundance in all locations, with nappies prevalent at the beauty spots in Glencoe and Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye.

Rich added: “I am hoping I can grow this event to include education in schools, with Scout Groups, youth clubs and as many places as possible that will involve the next generation.

The event happens every second Saturday of October, and is published through the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Real3Peaks