Field Notes: Nevis at night

Nevis conservation officer Nathan Berrie reports on a spectacular fundraising initiative he helped with

Nevis at night   summit lit up detail

On a clear and calm late summer evening, Ben Nevis was lit up in an effort to raise much needed funds to carry out essential environmental work around the Nevis area.

This year's Light up Ben Nevis event in late September, was part of Nevis at Night: The Festival of the Elements held in support of the Nevis Fund - and created by our partners, the Nevis Landscape Partnership.

During a torch lit guided ascent of the mountain track, participants (who had raised £250 each to take part) were presented with a unique opportunity to see Ben Nevis glowing. With the sun setting, the numerous structures along the summit plateau were lit up to bring them to life.

The event also had a serious intention to raise much needed funds to help look after our ever-popular highest mountain. In 2018 there were an estimated 160,000 visitors to Ben Nevis, many of them summiting to raise money for a charity. With high numbers using the mountain track, constant management is required. Unfortunately very little of the money raised is donated towards work on Ben Nevis and - with limited centralised support available - sustaining funds to carry out essential path maintenance can be challenging.

With this in mind, Chair of the Nevis Landscape Partnership and local mountain guide, Mike Pescod created the Nevis at Night event to raise money for the management of Ben Nevis while enabling participants to do the same with a charity of their choice. It is hoped that other charity event organisers, who guide large groups on Ben Nevis, will follow suit.

During the event, I and several others were tasked with the job of lighting up Ben Nevis. This involved summiting Ben Nevis before sunset and arranging lighting across the plateau in an effort to wow participants as they made their torch light ascent. Once all the participants had completed their ascent, the lighting was removed and carried off the hill.

Thanks to favourable weather conditions, waiting for all the participants to summit was very enjoyable. On several occasions my fellow “torch bearers” and I had the summit of Ben Nevis to ourselves. We made the most of a rare opportunity to spend several hours on the summit of Ben Nevis watching the sun slowly set and admiring the stars. To cap it all off, when packing up, we were rewarded with a blood-red moonrise - a special moment which will stay with me forever.

Nevis at Night - Finlay gets ready for 5 hours on the summitTorch bearer Findlay getting comfortable for a five-hour stay on the summit of Ben Nevis.

Now in its second year, Light up Ben Nevis is growing in numbers and generating income for the Nevis Fund. It is estimated that around £50,000 is required each year to maintain the Ben Nevis path, part of which the Nevis at Night festival now helps contribute towards.

If you want to know more about the night-time festival, and maybe even take part in 2020, visit the Nevis at Night website.

Photo at the top courtesy of nevisatnight.com