Mending our Mountains: The PyG track, Snowdon

An even busier summer than usual, combined with periods of traditionally Welsh weather and the inability of footpath maintenance to take place during lockdown, has left the paths leading to the summit of Snowdon in a rather sorry state. Thankfully, a small team of our volunteers were on hand on the 23rd of September to help give the PyG Track a much-needed spruce-up before the autumn half-term school holiday.

The team initially focussed on clearing the flooded culverts and creating drainage channels further along the mid-section of the path, allowing the water to drain off down the hillside and preventing further water erosion. However, their attention soon turned towards the most exhaustive challenge of the day, which was to remove landslide debris from a steep section of path shortly before the Miners Track junction. After an hour of shovelling, the rock-stepped path was eventually revealed beneath, providing a much safer, and enjoyable walking experience.

A quick lunch break provided some much-needed respite, and calories, before their descent back to Pen y Pass; but there was still some work to be done… On the way, the team stopped to unblock and cover up an exposed drainpipe which was presenting a slip hazard for walkers and turning the path more into a river. Setting to work, the team alternated turns shovelling debris out of the pipe and placing it on top; finishing the job by placing a headstone at the end of the pipe to prevent walkers stepping off the edge.

The final job of the day involved dismantling the largest of three unnecessary cairns situated in the middle of the path. Despite appearing inconsequential, these features have proven to be an issue throughout Snowdonia, as the act of stone stacking can also incite or accelerate footpath erosion, as removing stones from elsewhere along the path edge exposes bare soil to rain and sun.

Visitors are therefore reminded, if they come across a newly established cairn, to remove a stone and place it along the perimeter of the path, as opposed to the traditional folklore of building them. This would also help save our volunteers a great deal of work, as there is already plenty to keep them busy.

Thank you to all the volunteers involved on this workday, and to all the appreciative walkers they met along the way.

An article by placement student,

Owen Davies.                 

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