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BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson
"Throughout the town there has been a buzz about the sale"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Ben Nevis set to change hands
Ben Nevis
Access to Ben Nevis will remain free under the new owners
Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, is to be sold to one of Scotland's leading conservation charities.

The John Muir Trust is taking over the 4,400 foot peak for less than 500,000 after the current owner decided he did not want it being sold on the open market.

It is one of the world's most famous mountains, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

I felt obliged to make sure the future was safeguarded

Duncan Fairfax-Lucy, Ben Nevis' former owner

It has been in private hands, owned by the same family for generations, but Duncan Fairfax-Lucy has decided the time has come to sell.

He said he arrived at the decision because he was concerned about the future of the area and, in particular, the wild spaces around the mountain.

The deal includes not only Ben Nevis itself, but also two other 4,000 foot peaks and a large part of Glen Nevis, another tourist magnet.

The trust has launched a public appeal for 1m to cover the purchase price and future management costs, which has already received a 50,000 donation from another environmental charity, The Chris Brasher Trust.

Cuillins price

The Ben Nevis move follows the decision by John MacLeod of MacLeod to put the Black Cuillins in Skye up for sale for an estimated 10m.

Chris Brasher said: "Ben Nevis has been independently valued at 500,000 , so using that example as a yard-stick, the proper price of the Cuillins should be around the 2.4m.

"Anyone asking for more than this is living in 'cloud cuckoo land'."
Ben Nevis
500,000 people visit Ben Nevis annually
Mr Fairfax-Lucy said: "The John Muir Trust is particularly specialist in looking after wild spaces.

"The area was under pressure from tourism and the trust may be able to preserve the wild spaces as well as permit them to be open to the public."

The estate came into Mr Fairfax-Lucy's possession in 1979, but it has been in the family since the late 19th century.

"I know the trust will look after the ben. It's in their interests - that's why they were formed. I have confidence in their management."

He said the mountain did have a special significance for him, but that he felt obliged to make sure the future was safeguarded.

'Wild and beautiful'

The trust's director, Nigel Hawkins, said it had acquired a "wonderful, beautiful area" for the money.

"We aim to keep the whole area wild and beautiful. Ben Nevis is very popular - there is a tourist path to the summit.

"We want to look after that path, avoid erosion, and do something about the litter on the mountain."

He added that Mr Fairfax-Lucy was due the "greatest credit" for his role in the sale.

"It is an example of a very responsible private owner looking to the future," he said.

It has been estimated that more than 500,000 people visit Ben Nevis and its main access route Glen Nevis each year, with a further 100,000 either climbing or walking to the Scottish mountain's summit.

The trust, which already owns land in Skye, Sutherland, Perthshire and Knoydart, has pledged to maintain free public access, but will carry out restoration work on the main track to the summit, try to manage the litter problem and enhance the environment by planting more native trees.

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06 Mar 00 | Scotland
Climbers die in Nevis falls
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