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29 Apr 2019

Lighting up our mountain peaks

Participants in the 2019 Torchlight Challenge hold their flaming torches aloft
Participants in the 2019 Torchlight Challenge hold their flaming torches aloft.
Around 160 participants took part in a mountain fire climb last weekend.

Flaming torches were lit and mountains across Scotland scaled as we announced a £1.9 million five-year programme of investment to repair and upgrade 273 miles (440km) of upland walking routes.

On Saturday 27 April our Torchlight Challenge saw around 160 walkers climb either Arran’s Goatfell, Scotland’s most southerly Munro Ben Lomond or Ben Lawers by Loch Tay, all of which are cared for and maintained by the Trust.

Climbers take in the views along the way during the Torchlight Challenge
Climbers take in the views along the way during the Torchlight Challenge.

The walkers reached each summit around 9pm and the torches combined at each site to create a beacon, uniting the three groups who could be seen across the peaks.

The Trust has been at the forefront of upland path repair in Scotland for many years and has set up a strategic plan to protect treasured and protected areas. The new five-year programme of work will focus on 10 locations throughout Scotland: Ben Lomond; Ben Lawers; Glencoe; Goatfell; Grey Mare’s Tail; West Affric; Kintail; Mar Lodge Estate; St Abb’s Head and Torridon.

Torchlight can be seen from the mountainside as climbers make their ascent to the summit
Torchlight can be seen from the mountainside as climbers make their ascent to the summit.

Bob Brown, Upland Path Manager for the Trust, said: ‘As a charity wholly funded by our members and supporters, we rely on campaigns such as the Torchlight Challenge and the Footpath Fund to help maintain and preserve our sensitive mountain environment.

‘Paths not only make the mountains accessible but they also protect the wider area too. When paths get into a bad state of repair, people avoid the damaged sections. This leads to path creep as people walk on the vegetation either side, widening the path and damaging the surrounding area.’

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“Mountain path work is expensive and as a charity we rely on the Footpath Fund to allow us to maintain and restore the paths that hillwalkers love about Scotland.”
Bob Brown
Upland Path Manager, National Trust for Scotland
Goatfell at sunset during the Torchlight Challenge
Goatfell at sunset during the Torchlight Challenge

A programme of work is due to begin immediately, starting at Goatfell on Tuesday 30 April. The upper slopes of Arran’s most popular hill path attract visitors all year round, and the Trust has undertaken work on the path to ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy this spectacular area. However, until now, work has been small scale and reactive.

Just days after the Torchlight Challenge, a team of local contractors will be hauling tools up the mountain to begin work on a phased restoration of the top sections of Goatfell, ensuring that both habitat and landscape are protected and allow continued enjoyment of Arran’s best-loved mountain.

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“Our new footpath programme is our most ambitious yet and, with the help of our loyal supporters, we will be able to implement crucial repairs and maintenance to guarantee the future of Scotland’s most stunning and significant landscapes.​”
Mark Bishop
Director of Customer & Cause, National Trust for Scotland

Mark continued: ‘The Torchlight Challenge teams have got us off to a flying start with their fundraising efforts, all of which will play a vital role in protecting and preserving Scotland’s treasured sights and landscapes.’