Ben Nevis is littered with 4kgs of banana peel every day, complains clean-up guru


WALKERS on Britain’s highest mountain are dumping at least 4kgs (9lbs) of unsightly banana peel every day.

Richard Pyne, 46, one of the country’s leading hillwalkers, brought down the discarded peel from Ben Nevis two days running.

Many walkers assume the skins will rot but at high altitude and low temperature the process can be very slow – and even damage the fragile environment.

Richard wrote: “People come for beautiful views and leave behind a few banana skins for a change.

“Yesterday I bagged approx. 4KGs of banana skins off the summit and path on Ben Nevis…Today, I did another pick, and came down with the same volume (Half a large carrier bag full).

“It’s a never ending story.”

Banana peels
Richard Pyne collected the peels for two days running

Richard, from Kinlochleven, later added in the comments: “So, after removing all of the banana skins on Friday, I collected 42 more on Saturday…It seems like the current trend is approx. 300 discarded per week.”

Other social media users were disappointed by the images, but many were not suprised.

Gayle Cobain wrote: “It’s sad that people go to the countryside for the natural beauty and yet scar the landscape with litter and graffiti. So others can’t enjoy it too.”

Mike Hawes wrote: “This is awful , the problem is they think it will rot down, but up there if they do rot (eventually) they change the acidity of the soil and damage the environment. Then there are the bloody little labels, which don’t rot.”

Helena Lewis wrote: “I never understand why people carry them up but can’t be arsed to carry them down, they think because they’re organic it’s not littering, of course it’s littering!”

Ruth Gray wrote: “Drives me mad. Had a real argument with a guy on Schiehallion once…

He did pick it up eventually.”

Banana skins in bag
Many social media users reported seeing the banana skins on the mountain

Dave Stones wrote: “People think they will decompose quickly and they do not. Education in the car parks is best I would say.”

The John Muir Trust discourage the littering of organic waste in the Ben Nevis guide.

It states: “Organic waste impacts on the ecology, and biodegrades slowly in rocky and cold upland environments. It can take years to fully decompose.

“The amount of waste left on the summit, especially edible rubbish, encourages species which would not normally occur there.

“This has the potential to displace species of the high tops such as snow bunting and ptarmigan.”

In 2018, alongside other volunteers, Richard cleared 135kgs of rubbish from the peak and said this was mostly fruit peel and tissues.

Richard is the founder of the ‘Real3Peaks Challenge’, a community dedicated to clearing the UK’s mountain ranges of litter.

Ben Nevis
Banana skins do not decompose quickly at such a high altitude

He said: “All that we do with The Real3Peaks is strip what is left behind, to try and make the mountains as clean as possible before the snow comes, so at least, on places like Ben Nevis where the snow can linger, there is a fighting chance that the mountain is “clean” for the Spring thaw.

“It is so nice to see rubbish free ground as it all melts. Plus the added bonus, folks tend not to leave litter when somewhere is tidy.”