In order to preserve the natural scenic beauty of the area the Nevis Partnership aims to minimise the adverse impact of man’s presence on the country’s highest mountain. Volunteers, many acting alone and others in organised groups, periodically participate in the removal of litter dropped on the main track and summit area. Some groups have taken responsibility for particular sections of the mountain. Parties of volunteers have also been organised recently to remove a large number of extraneous cairns that have appeared on the mountain over the years. Only the Peace Cairn and a few that are considered helpful as navigational aids have been left. The Nevis Partnership is indebted to all who contribute in this way to preserving the scenic beauty of Ben Nevis and its environs.
How best to deal with the large number of plaques and other memorials that have been placed on the mountain to commemorate someone’s loss is a sensitive and altogether more delicate issue. After much debate and consultation it was decided to remove all existing memorials from the summit of Ben Nevis and to discourage new ones being added. Existing plaques will be disposed of only after a concerted effort has been made to contact those responsible for placing them on the mountain. In their place a collective memorial in the form of a curved stone seat and cairn has been constructed within a wooded area near to the visitor centre in Glen Nevis.
Site for Contemplation Beachd-smuainich
To cater for those who return to the area to reflect on the memory of departed relatives or friends a collective memorial providing a site for contemplation was created in the autumn of 2005, funded by the Nevis Partnership. This is located in a woodland setting beside the river and near to the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre. It is easily accessed via an all abilities path from the adjacent car park.
The memorial comprises a semi-circular stone bench orientated towards a clearing in the wood beyond which there is an uninterrupted view of Ben Nevis. On the back of the stone bench a suitable inscription has been carved and immediately to the front a simple stone cairn has been erected. Here visitors can, in a peaceful and tranquil setting, sit and contemplate not only on their personal loss but also on the scenic beauty that surrounds them. No plaques or floral tributes will be permitted at this site, which stands on land owned and managed by the Highland Council. This decision has been taken in order to maintain the neutrality of the site for all visitors.
Advice on Ashes Luath
Many people during their lifetime request that following cremation their ashes be scattered at a specific location. In other cases it is the relatives of the deceased that make this decision. Being the highest mountain in the country, Ben Nevis is a fairly popular venue for such ceremonies.
It might be assumed that the practice of scattering ashes will have no lasting effect on the immediate environment. However if ashes are repeatedly scattered over a limited area this can bring about changes to plant life. Many plants can tolerate only a narrow range of soil acidity or alkalinity, and many are sensitive to the concentration of certain mineral elements. The ashes of human remains are rich in both calcium and phosphorus and elevated concentrations of these elements can stimulate the growth of some plant species, but adversely affect others. On softer ground the burial of ashes confines their effect to a small area and is a preferable alternative to above ground scattering, but this is not practicable on the summit plateau. While no attempt will be made to dissuade anyone from scattering human ashes on Ben Nevis, you should try to choose an area away from the summit cairn, and also away from the north face on which a number of alpine plants struggle to survive. The more widespread the dispersal the less likelihood of an impact on vulnerable plant species. Throwing ashes into the air on a windy day is an effective way of ensuring that they are distributed over a sufficiently wide area.
Registered in Scotland / 3 Cameron Square, High Street, Fort William, PH33 6DG Company Registration Number SC235028 / The Nevis Partnership is a Charity registered in Scotland, No SCO33418