Paul Thompson, Ranger at Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve writes about how erosion affects NNR properties.
As the days lengthen the first purple saxifrage appears on the hill and the melting snow reveals, among other things, the extent of winter’s damage to our mountain footpaths. The action of freeze and thaw and running water spilling from swollen burns degrade the paths making repairs necessary to ensure they are up to the task of bearing many thousands of feet to the summit of Ben Lawers.
Following on from the previous blog about how we can make our countryside both accessible but sustainable, this post is concerned specifically with the issue of erosion. As Scotland’s 10th highest Munro, Ben Lawers is a magnet for hillwalkers. Over 30000 visitors a year tread the paths up these hills, and though all are welcome, the damage caused by their footfalls needs to be constantly managed to protect them from further harm. The primary means we have of managing erosion is the construction and maintenance of footpaths.
The Trust has developed a comprehensive policy on how it manages its wild land. This document was influenced by a letter to the Trust from mountaineer and philanthropist Percy Unna. As well as providing the money to purchase Ben Lawers and other properties for the Trust, he had strong views on how Scotland’s mountains should be managed. Chiefly, that they should not be made any less wild or easier to climb.
With that in mind is it ever justifiable to build a footpath though wild land?
To finish reading Paul’s blog visit the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve website.