National Trust launches campaign to restore Brecon Beacons footpaths
The National Trust is to carry out essential repairs to footpaths in the Brecon Beacons ahead of what it predicts will be the busiest tourist season ever.
There is an "urgent need" to restore walking paths on Pen y Fan - the highest peak in South Wales - due to the number of visitors doubling over the past five years, the charity said.
The Trust has been looking after the central Brecon Beacons for 30 years and spends about £100,000 each year maintaining footpaths.
It is now launching an urgent appeal to raise additional funds to repair damage caused by erosion before visitors descend on the area this spring.
More than 350,000 walkers tread the footpaths of Pen y Fan each year - a figure that has more than doubled over the past five years.
Ranger Rob Reith has been leading footpath repair work for the past 30 years.
"It's fantastic the area is so popular with visitors, who experience the stunning outdoors and enjoy the challenge posed by one of our best loved peaks," he said.
"But with popularity comes wear and tear. Judging by recent figures, it looks like 2018 could be the most popular year ever for walking in the Brecon Beacons, and we need to make sure the paths are in the best possible condition to accommodate that."
The Trust said that if the repairs are not carried out, visitor footfall combined with changeable weather would cause erosion and widen the paths.
Previously, this has created scars up to 130ft (40m) wide, with a loss of vegetation and thousands of tonnes of soil.
Staff and volunteers have created more than nine miles (15km) of stone pitched paths in the Brecon Beacons and 437 yards (400m) of drainage ditches, as well as reversing declining vegetation in an area the size of 30 football pitches.
The National Trust cares for more than 3,328 hectares of land in the central Brecon Beacons, including more than 43 miles (70km) of footpaths and bridleways.
More information on the campaign can be found at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brecon-beacons-appeal.