Cairn concerns

Snowdonia National Park Wardens have appealed to walkers to stop moving stones and building cairns on the mountains

Illustration photo of Cairn concerns

Over the years it has become customary to build cairns on mountains in order to identify paths and junctions or dangerous places. But recently, it has become customary for walkers to identify the routes they have taken by placing a stone on a pile of stones and in doing so, creating a cairn. On Cadair Idris, it has become such a problem, that the Senior Warden for South Snowdonia has decided to organise a volunteer day dedicated to reducing them.

“It’s quite a problem on Cadair Idris," said Simon Roberts, who’s leading the project. "As the cairns are built, stone by stone, the footpaths are eroding and the fragile landscape is being damaged. Footpaths widen and the cost of maintaining the footpaths increase. But, even more dangerous, they can mislead walkers, especially in fog. Later this year, we will begin to rationalize the cairns, but in the meantime we are appealing to walkers to stop moving the stones on the mountains.”

Warden Myfyr Tomos added: “On the Tŷ Nant footpath (pictured above), within less than a mile between Rhiw Gwredydd and Bwlch y Cyfrwy, there are 102 cairns, and at the base of each cairn a very large hole where stones have been lifted from the path and adjacent land. Some of the stones are huge and the cairns are increasing every week. We need to ensure that future generations can enjoy walking the paths and mountains of Snowdonia and therefore reducing erosion by encouraging people not to move the stones, is a way of contributing to this.”

The process of rationalizing the cairns on some of the mountains in North Snowdonia has already begun, and during the summer months, the Wardens in South Snowdonia will begin to rationalise cairns on Cadair Idris. With the help of volunteers from the Welsh mountaineering club, Clwb Mynydda Cymru, the cairns will be reduced and some will be completely demolished.

If anyone is interested in volunteering, they can contact Simon Roberts at the National Park Office in Penrhyndeudraeth on 01766 770274.