Field Notes: Local heroes clean up Nevis

Nevis Conservation Officer Nathan Berrie works with our community partners to test drive our first post lockdown conservation work party

Heroes   rachel and matt detail

With the easing of lockdown travel restrictions, many people are venturing to the Nevis area to take their first deep gulp of the fresh Highland air after months of staying at home. It has been fantastic welcoming so many new faces to the area and seeing them engaging with the nature for the first time in months. However, this sudden increase in visitor numbers brings several challenges.

In previous summer seasons we have had the help of our fantastic volunteers to do various tasks around Nevis, mainly Ben Nevis litter picking. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, hosting volunteering opportunities has not been possible. However, as the Scottish tourism and hospitality sector re-opens, we are now able to take the first steps towards positive actions for the outdoors by trialling working with volunteers back on Ben Nevis.

Last week we welcomed a small group of volunteers to join our first post-lockdown work party. By collaborating with Rory from the Nevis Landscape Partnership, we were able to follow government advice to keep our staff, volunteers and members of the public safe on the hill.

The weather was not ideal for our work party, but spirits were high! We spent two days on Ben Nevis working in teams to clear litter and carry out basic path maintenance. The work would have taken Rory and I much longer, so we were delighted to have help from our hard-working volunteers.

 Heroes - clearing cross drains on Nevis - Nathan Berrie

^ Clearing cross drains in the mountain mist: not all heroes wear capes – some wear waterproofs and hi vis!

In order to reduce the risk, we are planning to continue working with local volunteers who are not shielding, as well as those who have volunteered with us in the past. This will enable us to iron out any issues and eventually expand our volunteering opportunities.

If you are based further afield and are eager to join our volunteer work parties, please bear with us. We look forward to welcoming you back as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.

Meanwhile, we send our warmest best wishes and heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers and supporters for your continued dedication and contribution to the work of the John Muir Trust.

Top: Siblings Rachel and Matt pick up litter on the summit of Ben Nevis. Conveniently, as they live in the same household, they didn’t need to physically distance from each other.

All photographs by Nathan Berrie