DCSIMG

Fury over hikers’ bench on Ben Nevis summit

The bench on the summit. Picture: Hemedia

The bench on the summit. Picture: Hemedia

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

A SQUAD of charity hikers sparked fury by fixing a bench to the summit of Ben Nevis with cement.

The four climbers, who were raising money for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, carried the bench to the top of Britain’s highest mountain then encased the legs in cement to prevent it blowing away.

The stunt infuriated another mountaineer to such as extent that he sawed the bench into 27 pieces and carried it down the peak to dispose of it.

A spokesman for the John Muir Trust, the wild land charity which manages Ben Nevis, said it could not allow anyone to leave anything on the summit in order to keep the mountain as “natural as possible”.

He said: “If one person was allowed to leave a bench, we would get another and another until the summit looked like the bandstand in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park.”

He added that the charity had what it described as an “amicable discussion” with the men involved.

He said: “Essentially it was a bunch of young guys doing a charity event and they never really thought there was anything wrong with it.

“We got in touch and they agreed to remove the bench but it has already gone so they’ve said they will go up at the weekend to remove the cement.”

Davie Scott, 29, from Kinlochleven, who took it upon himself to remove the bench, said: “There are poor souls who die on Ben Nevis and their families aren’t allowed to put a bench up there to commemorate them.

“These people think they can just carry a bench up there and everything’s fine.

“They didn’t just leave the bench. They also left a big bag of rubbish and 10ft lengths of wood they’d used to carry the bench on their shoulders.”

Mountaineers and conservationists claim cementing the bench to the summit is as bad as “fly-tipping”.

But the four men involved, who intended the wooden seat to be a resting place for weary climbers, are bemused by the angry reaction to what they thought was a charitable act.

Matt Blake, from Glasgow, one of the four involved in the stunt, said: “We didn’t realise leaving this bench would be considered litter.

“We apologise for any danger we caused people. We only ever had good intentions.

“We honestly can’t believe the harshness of some of the comments some people are making online and the private messages people are sending some of us.”

His climbing colleague, Jay Bell, said: “Small-minded people have quite easily overlooked the fact we accomplished this task for a great cause.”

The men built the bench themselves before carrying it up the Ben to raise money for CHAS. A spokesman for the charity said it was unaware that the fundraisers were planning to leave the bench at the top.

 

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