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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Poppycock

LITTER WORRY: Climbers and members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District have been asked not to place Remembrance Day poppies on the mountain summit this year

REMEMBRANCE Day poppies have been branded a litter menace and banned from a Lakeland summit.

Traditionally, members of the Lake District Fell and Rock Climbing Club have trekked up Great Gable above Wasdale to place the poppies and hold a service on the summit.

Hundreds of walkers, climbers and veterans usually attend the poignant event. But the ceremony of scattering poppies – mirrored worldwide on the second Sunday every November, particularly at London’s Cenotaph, – will not go ahead this year.

Organisers now claim that poppies damaged by the weather are strewn over a wide area of fell, sometimes as far as a mile away.

Paul Exley, secretary of the club, said: “They become unsightly litter. This is surely not the intention of those who leave them.

“Yet, unlike the Cenotaph, there is no arrangement to remove the poppies from Great Gable.

“In the past, club members have had to climb the mountain to remove several large rucksacks full of disintegrated, soggy poppy waste.

“This isn’t an easy or pleasant task as the weather can be poor in late November.”

The problem is exacerbated, he said, by the numbers of non-club members who don’t realise how their tokens of remembrance will result in unsightly litter, and they continue to bring poppies and wreaths in all good faith.

“Non-members are always very welcome at the service,” Mr Exley added.

“But their thoughts and sorrow will be every bit as sincere without these well-meant tokens.

“In fact the absence of poppies will do much to enhance the atmosphere of one of the most beautiful and popular tops in Lakeland.”

The poignant ceremony originally remembered the club members who were killed in World War One.

In 1924 its war memorial – a bronze tablet inscribed with the names of the fallen – was dedicated in their memory before a gathering of 500 by climber, poet and author Geoffrey Winthrop Young.

These were the days before the Lake District National Park was established and when the fells were in private ownership.

As a memorial to its deceased members, the FRCC bought a huge area of the central fells – including 2,949ft Great Gable – from the landowner and donated this upland to the National Trust for the enjoyment “of the nation”.

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