You may well have seen the lambasting that Landrover have received in the press this weekend for driving a 4×4 up one of Snowdonia’s most popular peaks in a brazen publicity stunt (rhyming slang in the same mode as the Berkshire Hunt? Don’t Google if you’re offended, but it’s the origin of Berk!) As we’re local to the peak, and that I’ve walked up it far too many times – we decided to see for ourselves what the issues are.
1 – Is there any damage? Fact is, the route up Moel Eilio from Bwlch y Groes is pretty well eroded and rutted anyway. It’s next to impossible to say if there’s any fresh damage lower down on the route, but there’s clear damage that someone’s done along the final, steeper sections. It’s perfectly clear to the left of the regular path in the images below. I say someone, as I’ve no proof who’s done the damage. Let’s hope the National Park Authority have some before and after shots – or is it just bluster? The shots they’ve got on the BBC site definitely don’t reflect the state of the peak today.
2 – Timing? They’ve done it at a really stupid time of year and fail to show that they know even basic – Year 7 – Geography. The slopes are currently rather waterlogged, any slight damage will be increased by the heavy rainfall expected this time of year and recovery will be slowest over the winter months. Rainfall will use any weaknesses to erode the hillside further – with the example below showing the state of the footpath after it was eroded by heavy rainfall last winter.
3 – Irresponsible. This is a cold, calculated publicity stunt. On that count, they’ve succeeded in the most Malcolm Tuckeresque fashion. We’re even giving them free publicity. Chances are, those of us who are bothered by this are probably not going to be big fans of 4×4 (for anything more than practical puposes – e.g. Mountain Rescue) and they’re not going to be losing sleep about any missed sales there. However, by undertaking this stunt they’re legitimising the driving of 4×4 vehicles to places they really ought not to be and showing blatant disrespect to the National Park. I wonder how many copy cats they’ll spawn?
4 – Impotent. It’s perhaps the most shocking state of affairs that a landowner can allow this to legally happen, and the National Park is powerless to stop it. The National Parks have plenty of power to ensure your slates are of the proper shade of ‘slate’, but it seems little real power when it comes to actually protecting the environment. Landrover have said they’ll pay for any damage, but that doesn’t meant it’s right to be doing this in the first place.
Let’s hope that they see the error of their ways and pull all the publicity shots and also contribute something towards the Snowdonia Society or similar.. I’m not, however, holding my breath..