Highlands & Islands

Cliff hanger: Search for life on Ben Nevis' North Face

A team of mountaineers, geologists and botanists hope to make new records of wildlife and rock forms on Britain's tallest mountain.

In a three-year project starting next week, they will examine the North Face of Ben Nevis.

The effort will involve Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Midland Valley Exploration and the Nevis Partnership, an organisation based at Torlundy, near Fort William.

Image copyright Gareth James/Geograph

Ten experienced climbers and two botanists trained in climbing will use ropes to help them assess parts of the 308 acres (125 ha) that make up the steep North Face of the Ben.

Image copyright Gareth James/Geograph

The project will seek to better understand how the geology influences the distribution of plant life. SNH said it expects that new locations of rare species will be found and others not previously recorded discovered.

Image copyright Gareth James/Geograph

Cathy Mayne, of SNH, said: "We are very excited to be doing this joint venture between professional botanists, climbers and geologists.

"It will yield important new records on the rare plants found on Ben Nevis.

"It should also flag up any imminent threats to the plants and help us decide if any action is needed to help them."

She added: "Finding something not previously recorded here would be a real bonus and incredibly exciting were it to happen."

SNH said that at the end of the three years a blueprint would exist for repeating this kind of collaborative work on other cliffs in Scotland.

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