1. ITV Report

£250,000 needed to repair Snowdonia footpaths

The National Trust are asking the public to help repair paths in Snowdonia Credit: PA Images

Snowdonia is a vast piece of Welsh countryside, visited by thousands of people every year.

But getting closer to nature there is coming at a cost, particularly when it comes to looking after footpaths and protecting wildlife.

The National Trust takes care of Snowdonia, all 58,000 acres of mountain and farmland.

But, they say, Snowdonia isn't as tough as it seems.

Eroded paths are threatening Snowdonia's fragile nature. If we don't act now, it could be lost forever. More and more people are coming to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Snowdonia and walk our paths. On Snowdon, Wales' highest mountain, we've seen the number of walkers double since 2007.

– Rhys Thomas, National Trust

The Trust are hoping the public can help with the conservation of Snowdonia, with the launch of an 'urgent nationwide appeal' to raise thousands of pounds to repair and protect the area.

It's hoped a quarter of a million can be raised from the campaign, which has celebrity backing.

The appeal is supported by Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys, National Trust Wales's Snowdonia Ambassador. Credit: PA Images

I still get swallowed up by the scenery and sounds of Snowdonia. From the legendary Llyn Dinas Lake to the great Snowdon summit across one of the most dramatic valleys in Wales, Nant Gwynant, I have a profound love for this place.

Although I am away from Wales a lot these days, it is that love that keeps me connected while away. Sadly, I also see the trail of destruction the eroded paths are leaving behind when I return.

– Matthew Rhys, actor

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent every year to keep landscapes like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons accessible to the public.

But the Trust say the number of visitors and scale of footpath damage mean extra support is needed to ensure the work is done in good time.

I've been building and rebuilding paths in the area for eight years. It's tiring, time-consuming and back breaking work - involving hundreds of hours of volunteer time which requires shifting tonnes of stone by hand, vehicle and helicopter.

But it's vital if we want to protect the delicate upland habitats that make Snowdonia a special place for wildlife.

If there's no path or it's in poor condition, walkers stray onto the heather and vegetation. Then you're left with bare patches of ground and that's when the thuggish grasses start to move in - eventually strangling out the more delicate plants such as purple saxifrage, moss campion and roseroot.

– Rhys Thomas, National Trust
Visitors to Snowdonia are causing footpaths to erode Credit: PA Images

More than four million people visit Snowdonia every year, with almost a quarter of a million walking up Snowdon alone.

The area is also home to rare plants and wildlife, which are only found in the Snowdonia National Park.

The appeal, which runs to the end of the year, will allow the National Trust rangers and volunteers to:

  • · Repair and upgrade two and a half miles of paths in Snowdonia. On average it costs £180 to build just one metre of footpath.
  • · Protect delicate Snowdonia's wildlife, such as the endangered Snowdon beetle, which thrives in upland heath.

We urgently need to raise about a quarter of a million pounds to do this critical work on top of all the other conservation work we carry out day by day, month by month, and year in, year out. We are asking all those who admire and enjoy the beauty of Snowdonia to help us repair the paths that will keep Snowdonia looking spectacular for many years to come.

– Rhys Thomas, National Trust