Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Still crazy after all these years!

'Get off my land!: Photo Daily Post
If anything acts as a red rag to a bull for a mountain activist, its the insensitivity of landowners and farmers to the access rights of the general public. As someone who was turfed off Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) a couple of years ago because I was crossing land on the lower slopes above Beddgelert which, I was informed, was ‘private land’...whatever happened to the countryside rights of way act?...then being corralled by farmers onto eroded trade routes up the mountain rather being allowed to roam free, is highly irritating to say the least!

The story in the Daily Post this weekend, detailing how one farmer, Dafydd Morris who own 1200 acres of mountain, wants walkers to book in advance to walk up Yr Wyddfa and keep dogs off altogether demonstrates the incredible gall of someone who is paid by the taxpayer in ill conceived generous subsidies to overstock the uplands with sheep who then graze the mountain to the bone-thereby creating a bare ecological desert, devoid of trees, shrubs and wild flowers-would be laughable if it wasn’t so much an insult to our intelligence.

On the social media, others have pointed out that Mr Morris and his family are only too happy to exploit the walking community through their Halfway House Cafe and bunkhouse while leaving the watercourses and fences on the land gathering black silage bags and general agricultural rubbish which he/they can’t be bothered to dispose of sensibly. The term including ‘pot, kettle and black’ spring to mind!

Another observation made by Mr Morris and his ilk's critics,is the idea that the farming community are guardians of the countryside which is patently risible in the circumstances. The term used by farmers ‘the land is our factory floor’ could not be more appropriate given the way it is treated and left in places to resemble a council tip! Ecologically, the land would benefit enormously by being taken out of production for sheep farming and left to re-wild naturally. The Wild Ennerdale project in The Lake District is one such enlightened scheme where the valley which was previously heavily planed with conifers, is being allowed to return to its natural state. Only the black Galloway cattle who keep the bracken down and allow saplings to push on through to maturity, are given a free rein in the valley. Sheep are thankfully kept at bay.

Only those with a superficial BBC Countryfile view of the rural areas would see the land as it is and as it has been manufactured by traditional farming as ‘natural’. The irony being that farmers are allowed to operate outside of the normal economic principles which define a free market economy and its dynamic regulatory principles of supply and demand. Overstocking the uplands to rake in the subsidies for a product which is then maintained at an artificially high price-have you seen the price of lamb!!-just highlights how crazy the UK and EU agricultural policies are.

Hopefully, in the future the Welsh government will gain more powers in line with Scotland to reform land ownership and allow charities, communities and environmental groups to buy out dinosaurs like Dafydd Morris and allow the uplands and rough bounds to be managed sustainably or return to nature in a managed but natural way as in Ennerdale. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Welsh Mountain Goats targeted by 'Snipers'

Being a lover of the great outdoors and genuine mountain activities, it hardly needs saying that like most activists I hold the hunting, shooting fraternity in the deepest contempt. Anyone who gets pleasure killing or maiming an innocent creature for fun just has to have suffered some deep, malignant psychological trauma in their past. More likely as a victim of childhood abuse and as such, the abuse of animals-and children- is more often than not a way these poor people deal with their historical trauma. That being said, it’s still impossible to feel any sympathy for these low lifes. Whether it is a bull elephant or a pheasant, using a gun, crossbow, snare or trap is still an incredibly cowardly and contemptible act. 

The latest wheeze from this chav fraternity is the shooting of our wild mountain goats in Snowdonia. Some AH called Ian Hartford from an organisation laughingly called ‘Team Wild’!  Team Wild indeed, If you call yourself a man let’s see you tackle a Cloggy rock climb in the rain and paddle down the Fairy Glen in spate! But I digress; what this contemptible outfit is offering, is the opportunity to kill a mountain goat minding its own business in the hills. Of course mountain goats are a part of the furniture in our mountains and a sighting never fails to lift the spirits. They are so used to people that you can inevitably get pretty close to them and therein lies the rub. Shooting a fairly tame mountain goat is just about as pathetically pointless as the people who would shoot them.

There is no skill involved; no days and nights spent tracking and stealing up on the unsuspecting animal. Just wander up onto Tryfan with a rifle and shoot the poor creature innocently munching away on vegetation. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

The argument will go up that this is controlled culling to reduce the population. I’m sure some of the organisations that are charged with protecting our mountains like the SNPA and the appalling reactionary National Trust will both be happy to collude with the hunters. The irony being of course, that there is no attempts being made to reduce the real ecological villains of the peace—sheep!

These ovine desert makers are left to graze our mountains to the bone and we are told by the Farmers, SNPA and NT that it’s sheep farming that has made the landscape we know and love today. Well then, it’s certainly shaped the Snowdonia mountain environment but not in a natural way. The ecology has been basically raped by sheep. Without them, the natural environment would regenerate and we would see a return of native trees and shrubs colonising the foothills and valleys.

US climber Tommy Caldwell famously kicked a Kazakhstan hostage taker off a cliff. Perhaps we could do something similar if we see a rifle wielding moron poised over the north Gully!