Last week I posted a picture of the litter left by some walkers at God’s Bridge on the Yorkshire Three Peaks route. The section this blog is about is just a very short section of the route. Previously we have picked plastic water bottles discarded along the route from Pen-y-ghent to Birkwith and beyond. The summit of Pen-y-Ghent is always littered with food wrappings, banana skins and bottles, some of which are just stuffed into the dry stone wall by the stile. If it is bad on this section it is unlikely to be any better on the rest of the route. Thousands and thousands of people walk this route every year and it only takes a few to spoil it for everyone.
I decided that it was important to not only report on the litter at God’s Bridge but to do something about it. Last Saturday I went armed with gloves and bin bags to “do my bit”. When I got there it was obvious that someone had done some cleaning up but it had been added to again over the week. I went around 12.00 noon so most walkers had gone through.
As was mentioned on Twitter the only way to try and stop people dropping their litter is to remove it all and especially anything that looks like a container. Someone on Facebook asked why we pay our rates, maybe this was a tongue in cheek comment but obviously some people do think there are people cleaning up after them! I have to point out that this spot is a long way from any vehicle access and the rubbish has to be carried out on foot by volunteers.
After I had finished I had 2 bags of rubbish which included a carrier bag with 2 stainless steel 0.5l flasks inside, with their price tags still on, plastic and glass bottles, food wrappers, socks, foil containers and tissues. The area was completed cleared to try and stop the copycat litter throwers.
I decided to carry on clearing the route back towards the next gate and on the way picked up cans, a broken walking pole and sweet wrappers. When I got to the gate/stile/wall corner I found more bottles and wrappers and a pile of human excrement topped with soiled paper serviettes. I removed the paper but drew the line at the rest!
To finish off I thought I would drive up to the track junction at High Birkwith as I had picked up several items of abandoned clothing the previous week. This is an area used by many for their first waterstop and checkpoint.Even I was amazed at the next sight I got. Right in the middle of the track was a box full of fresh empty bottles. Somebody must have found an empty animal feed container and thought it would make a good bin and being on a track that if they left it in the middle then someone would take it away.
Before I left I checked over the stile near Birkwith Cave. You often see people popping over there, and sometimes being sent by the check point people, to relieve themselves. Yes, you guessed it, there was another pile of human waste right by the stile. This cave is popular with novice groups and novice groups tend to be young people so that’s a great health hazard and a pretty disgusting sight for us all too.
Please spread the word – Take your litter home with you. There are no bins on the Three Peaks route. Anything dumped can potentially hurt livestock and even other walkers. There are no official toilets on the route either so come prepared to clean up after yourself. I might be wrong but I feel it is not “true walkers” who are doing this but a few people who have just signed up for the Challenge and do not regularly visit or appreciate the beauty of the countryside. They are not necessarily “townies” as many people from urban areas do appreciate the countryside so lets not label them. This is a problem for the National Three Peaks too and seems to be in places where a few people are so focused on the challenge element and doing it as fast as possible they do not even “see” their surroundings.
All the rubbish has now been disposed of and this included 57 bottles and 8 cans being recycled. I will go back this weekend to see if the area is still clear- fingers crossed. There are obviously other people clearing up the litter as they go along so thank you for “doing your bit” too. Lets hope we can all see an improvement over the summer months.
Pam June 2013