Country Life Today: Why thousands of discarded banana peels are making Ben Nevis an increasingly treacherous climb

Why abandoned banana peels are making Ben Nevis a treacherous climb; how snow cannons could save our ice caps; the new test which could put an end to bovine TB.

Why the slippery slope of Ben Nevis is even more slippery than normal

Many hikers while approaching the summit of the highest mountain of the British Isles turn to one of the nation’s favourite fruits for that little boost of energy needed to reach the top.

While there is nothing wrong with a healthy level of potassium, the 3oo banana skins which are discarded every week on Ben Nevis are having a serious effect on both footpath erosion and the mountain’s ecosystem.

Alison Austin, the Ben Nevis land manager at the John Muir Trust, warns against hiking tourists leaving their mark on the mountain, which is part of Britain’s famous Three Peaks challenge.

‘We know that more experienced hillwalkers understand they should leave nothing behind but their boot prints,’ she told The Times. ‘But more casual visitors are less likely to be aware, for example, that banana skins can take two years to degrade, which is not just unsightly but can also damage the mountain’s fragile ecosystem.’

Full story (The Times – subscription required)

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Why you should be wearing sunscreen at home as well as away

Crowds enjoy the warm weather on the beach on June 22, 2019 in Brighton, England. Temperatures in south-east England are set to soar.

After a lifetime of overcast days and typical British rain, it’s hard to imagine our feeble sun doing any real damage. However, it’s precisely this way of thinking that is so dangerous, warns Cancer Research UK.

Skin cancer rates have ‘soared’ the charity says, with diagnosis rates increasing by 78% over the last ten years.

The advice is exactly the same as one would receive when going abroad: seek shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun is the strongest, and protect yourself with clothing, hats and sunglasses, while regularly applying sunscreen.

After all, if London is going to hit Barcelona-esque temperatures by 2050, we need to get used to the idea that our sun is exactly the same sun that shines over sunny Spain.

Full story (BBC News)

Stat of the day


The number of fans expected to attend Royal Portrush during the week of the 2019 Open Championship, which began at 6:35am this morning. The County Antrim club is hosting the 148th staging of the world’s oldest major for the first time in 68 years.

Royal Portrush golf club

Royal Portrush has magnificent views out to sea from almost every spot.

Read Toby Keel’s account on how one of golf’s greatest masterpieces has been made even greater (Country Life)

Scientists develop test which could put an end to bovine TB

The BBC carries a heart-rending report about the impact of TB on farmers — not least in terms of the distress it can cause watching much-loved animals being destroyed.

But hope could be at hand. Scientists at the Bovine TB Centre of Excellence at Aberystwyth University have managed to develop a test which can tell the difference between a sick cow and one which has been vaccinated — something which has never previously been possible.

The test could mean that cattle can be vaccinated against TB in future. It’ll take a few years of research and development before the test will be ready for general use, but it’s a huge positive step.

Scientists remain hopeful that a vaccine could end the disease for good. ‘The hope is that by bringing more evidence and science to the problem we can eradicate it,’ says Professor Glyn Hewinson, head of the research centre.

Full story (BBC News)

Quote of the day

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’

– Nelson Mandela

Today would have been the 101st birthday of one of the world’s greatest political figures; the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

After spending 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid politics, Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president and spent his time in office tackling institutional racism. Over 4,000 people attended his funeral in 2013.

Why snow cannons may be the way to save our ice caps

Sea ice floats as seen from NASA’s Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region.

Forever lampooned by avid skiers who prefer ‘the real thing’, snow cannons may be just the ticket to stop further deterioration of the West Antartic ice sheet.

The theory is that seawater can be turned into ice and returned to the glaciers, creating trillions more tonnes of snowfall and slowing down the melting process.

It’s so crazy that it just might work.

Full story (The Independent)

And finally… say hello to the world’s cutest little predators

Special hat-tip to Kate Evans on Twitter for the warning below this Tweet…