Highland Kings race apologises for markings on Arran mountain

  • By Jack Ewing
  • BBC Scotland news
Image caption,

Photographs taken by the BBC on Wednesday afternoon show that evidence of the event signage remains on some rocks

Organisers of a luxury ultramarathon have apologised after leaving yellow markings on an Arran mountain.

Highland Kings said work to remove the marks on Goatfell was 90% complete.

Evidence of the event signage could still be seen on the main path on Wednesday. Landowners National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said the damage was "very disappointing".

An ascent of the mountain formed part of day four of the event, which cost competitors more than £15,000 to enter.

Highland Kings founder Matt Smith told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that mistakes had been made.

"After a week we are still going up and there are a few more markings up there, we have managed to get about 90% of them," he said. "We won't leave the site until it's all totally removed.

"It was always our intention to clean off the markings. It was always part of the plan. We were in discussion with the National Trust about this.

"There have certainly been mistakes made. We will never use biodegradable chalk again. This has been a learning curve for us and we want to make sure it never happens again. "

The company earlier issued a statement apologising for the upset they had caused.

Image caption,

The markers were used as part of the Highland Kings Ultra Race

The Highland Kings event involved 120 miles (193km) of trail running on Scotland's west coast and included transfers by speedboats to luxury accommodation at the end of each day.

Goatfell is Arran's highest mountain and is on land owned by the NTS.

The trust's senior ranger on Arran, Kate Sampson, told BBC Scotland: "The company have come back and said they've cleaned them off, but they still haven't done a proper job of it and we're still finding signs that are visible.

"So we're bringing the company back yet again to try and do a proper job of clearing up the mess that they've made."

A spokesman for the NTS added: "We were very disappointed given that we had made prior contact with the organisers and had asked them not to use signs or drones on the hill and were told that there would be no signage at all but people marshals only.

"We made it clear to them that we expect all events on Trust land to be operated on a 'leave no trace' basis."

The NTS said it had made contact with event organisers via its solicitor after the navigation markers were discovered last week.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Goatfell is part of land managed by the National Trust for Scotland

Arran-based mountain leader and wildlife guide Lucy Wallace said she was concerned about the long-term environmental impact of the markings.

"They are a bit of an eyesore but they are also potentially damaging the rock they are sitting on because the rock is a granite - it's a very acidic environment," she said.

"The lichens that live on the granite need this acidic environment to exist and the paint has basically changed the Ph and chemistry of the rock."

Ms Wallace said many local hill users had been upset by the use of the bright yellow markings.

"The marks are every 20 metres along a really obvious path. There was absolutely no need for this whatsoever," she told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland.

"There are quite a few really successful and sustainable running events that happen on Arran and they use marshals and flag markers which they then take off the hill after the event."