Protecting the Peaks Together

Three Peaks Partnership

Alpine wildflower recce on the North Face of Ben Nevis

Standing looking up from the CIC hunt situated below the north face of Ben Nevis with its eternal snow patches and towering alpine cliffs it is hard to believe that anything would call this deadly environment their home. To most this mountain may seem alien and uninhabitable but believe it or not Ben Nevis is bursting with life! For those daring enough to venture, the north face can offer some very unique biodiversity which is rarely seen elsewhere in the UK.

The North Face of Ben Nevis from the CIC hut.

Over the last three summers the “North Face Survey” project run by The Nevis Landscape Partnership and Scottish Natural Heritage aimed to study this rare biodiversity. Bringing botanists, geologists and mountain guides together, the survey managed to access areas of the mountain never before explored by the trained eye of experts. It goes without saying the project was a huge success with many rare alpine species identified throughout the ragged cliffs and surprisingly green gullies.

Sadly this summer there was no survey and with a year gone by since the project finished, myself and Nevis property managed, Alison, decided it was important to revisit some of the sights to check on the progress of these secluded plant communities.

It was one of those rare Scottish summer days, with a warm light breeze and sunshine. From the car park we approached the CIC Hunt – An alpine hut situated within the corrie below the North Face of Ben Nevis. Here we had a bite to eat and pondered our route. We decided to venture onto Ledge Route, a simple but still very adventurous day on the mountain.

Setting off from the CIC hut we picked our way through the small rock bands and scree slopes searching for plant life along the way. Parsley Fern and Mountain Thyme were resilient within this ever mobile area of mountain side.

Having reached the grassy bank of Ledge route we were starting to find many of the more rarely sighted alpine species. Within No. 5 Gully Starry saxifrage and Alpine Speedwell were making an appearance. Hare’s-foot Sedge, a species that is at home in Svalbard, also was found. Moving our way onto the scramble section we were finding Starwort and Arctic Mouse-ear, both of which seemed comfortable considering the location they inhabit.

Alison scouting the plant line in No.5 Gully

Although the day was warm and sunny, having experienced Ben Nevis during periods of intense winter conditions and remembering how cold it can be, I found it hard to believe that these little, seemingly delicate, wildflowers call this environment their home.

Arctic Mouse-ear

After the short scramble we topped out onto Carn Dearg – A north eastern peak the Ben Nevis. From here we hand railed the cliff edge where we came across a friend and local mountain guide, Mike Pescod. Mike was part of the team during the North Face Survey and has developed a keen eye for rare alpine species. He reported to us that during his day with clients he stumbled across Highland and Alpine Saxifrage around No.4 Gully, both of which are very scarce!

Mike Pescod with his clients making their way down Ledge Route

Having topped out, we ended our day by joining our route up with the main mountain path and litter picked our way down the mountain.  With Ben Nevis usually shrouded in cloud and pelting rain, our day in the sun was a perfect remind why we do this type of work for a living.

Ben Nevis in the rare sunshine.


Ben Nevis Work Party

A wet but positive day on Ben Nevis!

On the 10th of June a gang of our committed volunteers gave up their Saturday to take on the glorious Scottish summer and help clean up Ben Nevis. The weather was uninviting to say the least but thanks to our hardy group we had a very successful day.

As you all know, Ben Nevis being the highest mountain the UK, can offer various degrees of challenge. One of them is getting to where we want to be so we can do the necessary work. A usual trip to Ben Nevis takes about 7 hours so as you can imagine most of our day was taken up by reaching where we wanted to be.

Having reached our spot we aimed to “de-roughen” the path. The path itself is in good nick but typically over a period of time large stones and scree can migrate their way onto the path making it hard for walkers. So it was up to us to tidy this! And what a mighty fine job our volunteers did! almost like a new path!

Whilst this was happening, a small  group continued onto the summit of Ben Nevis to carry out a litter pick. In particular we aimed to give the summit shelter a clean out. The summit shelter is rarely used as a refuge in the summer and is often used as a bin, so when possible it is important to arm yourself with bin bags and give it a clean out. To our surprise it was in relatively good shape. Although, the rest of the summit was a different story! Thankfully we had plenty of hands and bin bags. Filling our bags to capacity we carried as much as we could down the hill.

Having said this, it was great to acknowledge the fact that when compared to previous litter picks on Ben Nevis there was much less litter. Now, it is not obvious if this is walkers being more responsible but what is clear from experience and talking to others is the collective community that are working together to respect Ben Nevis. Many mountain guides operate on Ben Nevis and from first-hand experience we know they are a vital part of our team! Many guides practice a leave no trace policy and some even take more of the hill than they brought up! So from us at the 3PP and John Muir Trust, thank you to all that have helped keep the mountain litter free over the years.

Because of the weather we did not get the chance to take many photos but it was safe to say we had a very successful work party and the mountain is doing well!

Snowdon Race

The Snowdon Race is a big day for Llanberis and the surrounding area each year. Hundreds turn out to watch and support the runners starting from the village and to cheer them on their way back down to finish. Many are also seen on the Llanberis path towards Snowdon summit to have a close look at the runners as they do their best to cope with the harsh elements of the race on the mountain. Read more

Volunteer Wardens return on Snowdon!

We’re very fortunate here on Snowdon to have a team of Volunteer Wardens and we were delighted to welcome them back early this year for Easter and the new season ahead!

The role of a Volunteer Warden is diverse with every day different to the next. It can be challenging at times especially in extreme weather! The role includes providing information, advice regarding route choice and the importance of safety on the mountain whilst out on the busiest paths. They also do some path maintenance and litter picks which goes a long way towards reducing the problem.

Some have been with us from the start but it’s also great to welcome new faces to the team!

This year there’s ten new Volunteer Wardens joining the team so before Easter we had a day to welcome everyone and provide some training whilst out on the mountain.

It was great to see the Volunteer Wardens that’s been with us from the start sharing their experiences with the new group. We had a few scenarios whilst out in different locations on our journey. This included providing information to a group at Bwlch y Moch regarding the conditions on Grib Goch and talking to mountain bikers by Llyn Llydaw about the voluntary agreement on Snowdon.

We really appreciate all their efforts and commitments here on Snowdon and we look forward to working with them in the new season and hopefully years to come!

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PRESS RELEASE: An essential bit of kit for Three Peaks Challengers

Three Peaks Challengers Invited to use an Essential Bit of Kit

Three co-ordinated Mountain Care days are being held across the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales this weekend to highlight the launch of a new piece of ‘kit’ for charity challengers.

The new kit won’t be found on the slopes of the nation’s favourite mountains, but online, as a central resource with useful route maps, environmental information, health and safety tips and a simple one stop registration process.

Thousands of people each year scale Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon, with many trying to summit all three peaks in one trip. The longer days of summer see numbers taking part rising dramatically, with consequent impacts on the paths and nearby communities.

Read more