Rebbeca Amiel: How to keep Scotland’s mountains beautiful

A stunning landscape like Ben Lomond remains that way through a solid programme of care and regeneration. Picture: Allan Milligan
A stunning landscape like Ben Lomond remains that way through a solid programme of care and regeneration. Picture: Allan Milligan
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Protecting the landscape takes time, effort and cash, says Rebecca Amiel

Scotland’s landscapes have inspired us for centuries, so when we were looking to highlight our mountain conservation work through our Protect Landscapes campaign, we decided, to paraphrase Beyoncé, to put a frame around it. Until the end of October, visitors to Glencoe or Ben Lomond will spot giant frames each positioned to capture an iconic mountain view. The frames appear to be gilded and ornate, containing the scene in just the same way as they might be displayed as paintings in an art gallery, or indeed a National Trust interior.

These are the visible markers of the National Trust for Scotland’s latest campaign, called Protect Landscapes, which is raising vital funds for the Footpath Fund. Trust members and others are being encouraged to create their own landscape “paintings” using smaller frames with their phones to create a landscape selfie or “landsie”. There have been some stunning images uploaded online, taken at Glencoe, Arran, Culzean, Ben Lawers and Torridon among other properties in the National Trust for Scotland’s care.

Taking a landsie is fun but the message is serious. Thousands of visitors fall in love with Scottish countryside views every year. Some take in the scene from car, boat or train but many others enjoy exploring the wild areas as hillwalkers, climbers, cyclists or runners. Through our Protect Landscapes campaign we are celebrating the landscape but also reminding people there is a cost involved in caring for the countryside.

Protect Landscapes is all about our Footpath Fund, which helps us to care for more than 400 miles of footpaths across some of Scotland’s biggest mountains (we have more than 40 Munros in our care). Our programme not only includes upkeep and restoration of the paths themselves but vital landscape restoration work to heal erosion and ensure natural habitats continue to thrive.

A stunning landscape like Glencoe, Ben Lomond or Torridon only remains that way through a solid programme of care and regeneration. Natural elements like driving rain, heavy snow and unrelenting wind combined with thousands of people carving a path to the summit can result in a scarred and barren landscape where fragile vegetation and exposed soil are simply washed away.

The Footpath Fund raises money specifically for mountain conservation and supports a specialised team, the Mountain Path Team, and numerous dedicated volunteers who brave every weather condition all year round to halt the effects of erosion. This year, as we head into winter, we will be working on Ben Lomond and Torridon. At Ben Lomond we are using a helicopter to lift 100 tonnes of stone to several areas on the mountain so we can work on footpath management across the coming year. At Torridon we are laying matting to try and re-establish natural vegetation.

The Mountain Path Team uses light-touch techniques, for which we have become established authorities. Of course, this kind of work costs, and the higher and more remote, the steeper the bill – £37 to repair one metre of path using our low intervention approach, up to £150 per metre in those places where hand built, local stone repairs are needed. And that’s why we need your support. There are a few ways to get involved:

• Take a #landsieIt’s great to see the shots that the public are taking and tagging with our campaign hashtags #landsie and #protectlandscapes,

• Read some of our supporter’s Munro stories – visit www.footpathfund.org

• Donate! You can sign up for a direct debit at www.footpathfund.org.uk – a monthly donation of £3 a month will help repair one metre of footpath over a year.

Rebecca Amiel, Individual Giving Manager