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The BBC's Asad Ahmad
"At noon today the estate and ownership of the summit changes hands"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Trust takes charge of peak
Ben Nevis
Access to Ben Nevis will remain free
Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, has become the property of leading conservation group the John Muir Trust.

At noon on Wednesday, the well-climbed peak - which has been in the ownership of the same family for almost 200 years - was officially handed over.

Current owner Duncan Cameron Fairfax-Lucy and his wife Janet handed the deeds over to trust director Nigel Hawkins and chairman Andrew Thin during a ceremony in Fort William.

Nigel Hawkins
Nigel Hawkins: "We will become new guardians"
Mr Hawkins said: "The John Muir Trust sees itself as the long term guardian working with the local community and with others much in the same way as Mr Fairfax-Lucy has been a long-term guardian.

"His family has looked after it for 170 years, so we are now looking forward to looking after it for the next 170 years."

The trust announced that its 1m appeal was well on the way to reaching its target.

The 4,400 foot peak was sold for 450,000 after Mr Fairfax-Lucy decided he did not want it being sold on the open market.

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.

Thousands of visitors

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

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

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.

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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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Scotland
Ben Nevis set to change hands
06 Mar 00 | Scotland
Climbers die in Nevis falls
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