Who Should Pay for Snowdon’s Paths?

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It has been suggested this week by the Snowdon Partnership that visitors to the area pay their way with a voluntary contribution towards the maintenance of Snowdon. Is this tantamount to taxing the mountain tops, or a responsible approach to funding the continued problem of footpath erosion? Dave Roberts has a go at figuring it out!

The Snowdon Partnership was established to determine the best way forward to manage Snowdon for the future  as the the mountain is currently managed by a number of organisations. It’s clear that these paths are heavily used and their maintenance costs cash that has to come from somewhere.

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Only 18 of the 100 businesses asked have signed up for the pilot project to share a small percentage of profit, or ask their clients to pay a voluntary contribution towards the maintenance of the paths up Snowdon. That might not be a great take up, but these are austere times and as it’s only a pilot scheme, you might say that’s not a bad uptake for starters!

It makes perfect sense for outdoor activity providers to pay a small fee for each client they take onto the mountains. I’d bet most people would be happy enough to pay a few quid in order to contribute directly towards the upkeep of the paths. They’re in the mountains because they love them, and presumably respect them. Paying the price of a pint towards upkeep; that’s small beer.

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It does begin to fall down when you consider that many of those asked to contribute probably have no intention to walk up Snowdon, or any mountain and are only staying in the area. While that may be their loss, they might rightfully feel aggrieved to be asked to contribute towards other people’s activity. It’s a bit like asking all visitors to Snowdonia to pay a voluntary fee towards the upkeep of minor roads so that motorcyclists have a smoother ride.

If we ask people to pay for anything, it’s got to be fair, so expecting those who don’t enjoy our sport to stump up the cash is a bit on the cheeky side. It reminds me a bit of the environmental principle of polluter pays. While one argument is you don’t pollute or damage the environment in the first place, Snowdonia is hardly going to introduce a blanket ban on outdoor activities (unless we see another foot and mouth breakout perhaps?). If that damage is unavoidable then a polluter pays approach makes sense. We all cause damage to footpaths, and as responsible walkers we should be happy to contribute towards it.

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That’s why I think organised walks should be required to pay some contribution towards the upkeep of the footpaths. It’s actually one of the suggestions made by the Three Peak Partnership website, that three peak challenge walkers donate a small proportion of the funds raised towards organisations that manage the respective mountains. Some charities charge enough of a registration fee already that adding a few quid onto this wouldn’t affect their fundraising and would just be another overhead.

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The ongoing Mend our Mountains appeal by the BMC is a prime example of how you can raise both money and awareness of the issue. While there are a number of organisations you can support, having one well known campaign we can all get behind makes things a bit clearer. I think that the principle of asking visitors to pay a few pounds towards the upkeep of Snowdon’s paths can only be a good thing. With the proviso that all users take equal responsibility and that the scheme avoids being tarred as to what amounts to a ‘mountain tax’ as it seemed to come across on the local news sites.

It’s often suggested to buy a pint for the local Mountain rescue team by popping a fiver in the box.

Is it now time to buy the Pyg a Pint?

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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