Over the last few years Peak Mountaineering has worked on a number of events with Keen Footwear. Keen are a progressive brand that produces high quality shoes and sandals while actively trying to protect the environment – it’s always been a pleasure to help them and we value their ethos as it closely matches our own. For a number of seasons Keen have financially supported an innovative event called Envirotrek. Envirotrek is organised by the Dutch charity Respect The Mountains and combines litter collection in wilderness areas with outdoor activities. It’s been a big hit in several European countries and the event grows bigger each year.
We hadn’t heard of the event until Keen approached us last year to ask if we’d like to be involved. The Peak District National Park is the second busiest in the world and we are passionate about protecting the unique landscape that is our home and workplace – of course we wanted to be involved. Since those initial discussions we welcomed the Envirotrek Director at the start of the year to scout the area. Joanne visited during a stunning few wintery days in February and thought the area was perfect. Peak Mountaineering would bring the first ever UK Envirotrek to the Peak District.
The months in between have been the busiest in our companies history and fitting in the planning for the event was quite a task. Fortunately we live in a wonderful community of like-minded individuals and everyone we asked was happy to help. From local instructors (and even some that weren’t so local!) willing to give up their time through to Castleton villagers who took on the task of providing the lunch and publicising the event. From local providers offering chairs, a marquee and the use of the playing fields through to Hope Valley retailers happy to offer reduced prices on caving equipment hire and mountain bikes. We also had great support from media sources locally and nationally. There are too many websites, shops, publications and radio stations to list individually but a massive thanks to every one of them.
The days leading up to the event had mixed weather and the forecast for Sunday wasn’t fantastic but, as we headed to the playing fields in Bamford at 6am to set things up, the sun was peeking through the clouds and there was the promise of a fine day. Besides the uncertainty of an English summer the other big unknown was how many people would turn up. People had been encouraged to register online but we hoped more would come along too. Our target was 50 and in the end, with instructor helpers, we got 53. There were families and individuals, couples and even a few babies and a couple of dogs and according to Respect the Mountains this was a great turn out for a first event.
After a welcome chat and safety briefing teams were deployed to Stanage, the Burbage Valley and Cave Dale. These were all areas that had been identified as having litter problems and so, armed with litter grabbers, bin bags and protective gloves the teams went to work. It soon became apparent that Cave Dale had a lot of litter whilethe teams at the other venues found less - even so there were barbeques, trashed guidebooks, finger tape, Power bar wrappers, drink bottles and a lot of dog waste bags. There was even a rusted wheelbarrow which won Mike a pair of Keen shoes as the most unusual find of the day.
Once back at Bamford the teams got stuck into a hard earned barbeque lunch to refuel before heading out for an afternoon of adventure. The sun was out and everyone relaxed on the grass and enjoyed a getting to know each other and share stories from the morning. It was a great atmosphere. Soon enough it time for action. A team of cavers headed for Giants Hole, climbers went to Burbage and the mountain bikers headed out from the site. Part of the reason we knew the Peak District would be the perfect place for the event was the wealth of activities on the doorstep and everyone came back buzzing from their adventures.
The finale to the day was a thank you to all the participants and a goody bag courtesy of Keen and Barts before the Peak Mountaineering team got to work dismantling the site. As we reflected on the day my eyes were drawn to the pile of rubbish bags in the corner of the field. The day was so much more than collecting litter but that, of course, was the focus. And that pile of waste really showed why the day had been a great success. A National Park with less litter and participants that had cared enough to get involved.
That evening we were exhausted and the day had certainly proved a logistical challenge right in the middle of our busiest part of the year. But, as we celebrated in the pub people started to tweet and email and the message from them all was clear…..thanks…….and can we come again next year!
Peak Mountaineering sends heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped to make Peak District Envirotrek 2012 such a big success. It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Posted by Paul