British national park bosses plead with walkers to stop building cairns

National park wardens in Great Britain are pleading with walkers to stop making cairns on the mountains. Snowdonia staff say footpaths and the fragile upland environment are being damaged by the custom of picking up stones and piling them up to mark routes.

The problem has become so severe that a demolition day is planned for cairns on the Cadair Idris in the South of the Snowdonia national park. Work has already begun to ‘rationalise’ some of the piles of stones in the northern part of the park.

Snowdonia National Park Authority said, over the years it has been the custom to build cairns on mountains to identify paths and junctions or dangerous places. But recently it has become common for walkers to identify the routes they have taken by placing a stone on a pile of stones to create a cairn.

“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 rationalise the cairns, but in the meantime we are appealing to walkers to stop moving the stones on the mountains.”

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