Wheelchair found at mountain summit 062

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by Lauren Crooks

A TEAM of volunteers made a bizarre discovery at the top of Britain’s tallest mountain – a wheelchair.

Puzzled workers found the rusting chair near the top of the 4,406ft summit of Ben Nevis on Saturday as they cleaned up the site.

But rather than leave it up there, the group from the John Muir Trust carried the 70kg steel frame during a three hour descent to preserve the mountain’s beauty.

The chair – with Peter Watson Self Drive labelled on the side – was covered in rust and is thought to have been up there for two or three years.

And now the volunteers from are trying to track down the owners of the aging wheelchair to return it.

Stunned Sandy Maxwell, the activities coordinator for the wild land conservation charity, said: “We have no idea why a courtesy transport chair has ended up at the top of Britain’s highest mountain.

“Nobody could have wheeled themselves up that far that’s for sure. We can only guess that it has been some sort of stunt.

“It must have been up there for at least a couple of years – it is covered in rust, and although it wouldn’t take long for it to rust in that atmosphere, it looks like it had been there a while.

“But despite the bizarre unearthing, the group – who organise clean-ups at least five times a year on the mountain – say it is not the weirdest thing they have ever found.

Sandy said: “This isn’t the strangest thing we have come across – we did find a piano a couple of years ago, alongside a packet of biscuits and a whisky bottle. But the wheelchair still raised a few laughs.

“But then we all remembered we’d have to get it down somehow!”

Sandy and his team had to strap the heavy chair – estimated at weighing around 70kgs – to his back and struggle all the way down Ben Nevis’ 4,406ft.

But his spirits were kept high during the three hour trek with passing tourists and walker’s jokes.

He said: “Everyone kept joking that Ben Nevis was some sort of Holy Grail, and asking if I had gone up in wheelchair and come back down carrying it. It was so heavy, my neck is still sore from it.”

Now Sandy insists he would love to return the chair to its rightful owners – but can’t track them down.

He said: “It’s labelled Peter Watson Self Drive, but the only company by that name says they don’t provide wheelchairs, so we are a bit stumped. We’d be delighted if we could trace the company but it’s not looking likely.”

The cairns have been built up by visitors over the years and are seen as a safety hazard by the Mountain Rescue as they can mislead walkers in poor visibility who are not following compass bearings.

John Muir Trust volunteers will remove all but a single line of cairns on the path above 4,000 ft, leading straight to the summit. 

Sandy said: “Cairns tend to start with people leaving rubbish lying around. They build stones around it rather than taking it with them, and then other visitors build on the stones.

“We have a constant battle against litter being left on Ben Nevis and I urge walkers to respect Britain’s highest mountain by carrying everything they take up back down again.”

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