Posted 23rd February by Peter Byrne
The National Trust has launched a campaign to carry out essential footpath repair work in the Brecon Beacons before what is anticipated to be the busiest tourist season ever
The number of visitors to the area has doubled in the last five years, with the charity identifying the urgent need to restore walking paths on one of the UK's best loved mountains, Pen y Fan.
The Trust has cared for central Brecon Beacons for thirty years and will spend around £100,000 each year on maintaining the footpaths. The charity has launched an urgent appeal as they look to raise additional funds to repair damage caused by erosion prior to an influx of visitors in spring.
Lead Ranger Rob Reith has been working for the Trust since 1986 and has led several footpath repair operations over the last thirty years.
He commented: "It’s fantastic the area is so popular with visitors, who experience the stunning outdoors and enjoy the challenge posed by one of our best loved peaks. But with popularity comes wear and tear. Judging by recent figures, it looks like 2018 could be the most popular year ever for walking in the Brecon Beacons, and we need to make sure the paths are in the best possible condition to accommodate that."
If repair work wasn't carried out, a combination of visitor football and changeable weather would cause erosion and widen the paths. In the past, this created scars 30-40 metres wide, resulting in a loss of vegetation and 1000's of tonnes of soil.
Since the Trust started looking at the area three decades ago, staff and volunteers have created more than 15km of stone pitched paths and 400m of drainage ditches, as well as reversing declining vegetation in an area as large as 30 football pitches.
Joe Daggett, Countryside Manager for the National Trust, said: "We have a massive responsibility to look after these areas for people to enjoy and to benefit nature. To do this, we are reliant on public support alongside our dedicated staff and volunteers. Campaigns such as this help to shed a light on some of the challenges we face and why this work is so important".
The National Trust cares for over 3,328 hectares of land in the central Brecon Beacons, including over 70km of footpaths and bridleways.
Image courtesy of National Trust Images / Billie Charity