Category: News

Big Sky Campers step up to #SaveMountainPaths in Scotland

A red campervan parked in a scenic spot in front of a hill in Scotland

Big Sky Campers have become the latest business to support #ItsUptoUs, the joint campaign from Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS), to save upland mountain paths across the country.

A red campervan parked in a scenic spot in front of a hill in Scotland

The campervan rental company, based in Edinburgh, have donated an incredible £1,500 towards the campaign, which has helped to push fundraising past the half-way point to a fantastic £150,000!

Run by Alex Black and Rob Dawkins, Big Sky Campers are a small business focussed on providing high quality campervans to customers who want to see the best of Scotland, with a focus on slow, sustainable travel.

A campervan parked in a scenic sport in Scotland
Many of Big Sky Campers customers enjoy Scotland’s hills (Image: Nigel Darling)

Alex said: “We decided to support the Its Up To Us campaign after visiting the Fairy Pools on Skye, where we were really impressed by the infrastructure there (after recent work carried out by OATS). We took a leaflet and kept up with some of the work OATS was doing and, when we were in a position to ‘give back’, we toyed with local charities in Fife, like the Coastal Path, but felt that the majority of our customers head north, many with boots and walking poles, and so decided on the It’s Up to Us campaign.

A selfie of a smiling man and woman in front of a mountain in Scotland
Big Sky Campers founders Alex and Rob wanted to give something back

“It’s great to be able to support It’s Up to Us as by doing so we are supporting the infrastructure and biodiversity of some fragile yet popular areas of Scotland which mean a lot to us, as well as being enjoyed by many of our customers.

“Many of our competitors plant trees which is wonderful and needed but we didn’t want to follow suit and there is more to supporting biodiversity than tree planting and this is where we decided that the Its Up to Us campaign ticked many boxes. Our customers use the mountains, car parks and paths, so in supporting the maintenance of these, we are also supporting the fragile environment and surrounding flora and fauna as well as the re-growth of scared areas.

A woman in a red jacket climbing in Scotland
Big Sky Campers customer Nigel Darling took this shot on a climbing trip in Scotland

“In the future, we hope we can do even more, and have added a section on the sustainability page of our website about the campaign for our customers to find out more and donate.

We want to say a HUGE thank you to Alex and Rob for their generous donation and all their support!

If you’re thinking about hiring a campervan, make sure you visit their website and don’t forget to check out their sustainability page.

If your business or organisation would like to make a donation or find out more about getting involved with the It’s Up to Us campaign, visit  

Meet our It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Benjamin Barendrecht

A man wearing a blue jacket with a camera during winter in the Scottish hills

It’s time to meet another amazing #ItsUptoUs campaign ambassador – Benjamin Barendrecht – who is helping us to #SaveMountainPaths in Scotland! ⛰️

He says: “My name is Benjamin Barendrecht, I’m a mountain photographer living full time in my van among the mountains of Glencoe. Born in the Netherlands, I never had access to the mountains while growing up, I was always fascinated and dreaming of exploring remote places of the world.

A profile picture  of ambassador Benjamin Barendrecht

“Since then, I’ve been to many places, but nowhere gave me the same feeling as the mountains of the Scottish Highlands, there is a magical feeling when exploring Scotland, a place I feel home. The incredible and diversely geological history of the place is something I feel truly invested in.

Photographer Benjamin Barendrecht on a Scottish mountain at Sunset

“Capturing moments of history with my camera is something I’m really passionate about. The mountains introduced me to my first camera. I was hiking in Norway, and I really wanted to find a way to capture the emotion and feeling of the place, which led me to a new creative process of finding how, standing among the giants which has stood the test of time.

Photographer and It's Up to Us ambassador Benjamin Barendrecht in Scottish winter

“Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from how to use a camera and finding my own creative style, which led me to bring more purpose into my work. Through my photography I want to inspire others to dive deeper into learning and understanding the mountains.

“For a long time, mountains have been seen as a safe heaven, used for creative, competitive and health reasons. We have the responsibility to look after the things we use and love. I support the It’s Up to Us campaign because it’s an inspiring way to give back to the mountains. Paths are an important part of protecting the land and a safe way to navigate.

“It’s up to us to look after the mountains and give back.”

⭐️ Find out more, get involved and donate:

⭐️ In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

⭐️ Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor

Vote for It’s Up to Us to win EOCA funding

Workers busy repairing the path on An Teallach

We are excited to announce that It’s Up to Us has been shortlisted for the autumn round of funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) and we need your votes to secure 60,000 Euros that will be a huge boost to our fundraising for the path repairs on An Teallach.

The award will be decided by public vote, which is open until midday Wednesday 1 November, so please head over to the EOCA website now to cast your vote for It’s Up to Us and share with your friends, family, club members and colleagues to ensure we have the best chance of being chosen.

Workers busy repairing the path on An Teallach

How to vote

To vote, you will need to REGISTER – this is quick and easy and can be done here

  1. To REGISTER, you will be asked to input a username and valid email account, then click the ‘Register’ button. 
  2. A pop-up box will appear, asking you for a four digit verification code. This code will be sent in an email to the address you have used to register. 
  3. Input the four digit verification code in the ‘pop up’ box, click on the ‘Verify Code’ button.
  4. You will be taken to ‘My Account’ page, where there is a link you can click to the ‘voting page’, and you are now ready to vote!

You can vote for one project from each category – It’s Up to Us is in the Wild Places category.

More about EOCA

The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is a charity organisation, set up in 2006 by the European Outdoor Group (EOG) to enable companies from the outdoor sector to work collectively together.  EOCA, with its members, supports and funds a growing number of much needed grassroots conservation, protection and regeneration projects around the world, protecting the wild places and wildlife everyone cares so much about.

Funded by membership and other fundraising activities, with over 150 members, EOCA is unique as it provides companies from an entire industry the opportunity to work together, making a difference to threatened wild places, species and habitats, multiplying the effect and positive impact on nature.

Funded projects tackle the loss of biodiversity and mitigate against climate change, whilst also having a link to the outdoor enthusiast, being beneficial to local communities and leave a lasting, positive legacy.

Work starts on An Teallach path

Workers busy repairing the path on An Teallach

It’s 5 months since It’s Up to Us launched and we are delighted to announce that work has now started on our project to repair 3.2km of badly eroded path on An Teallach.

Thanks to donations by Mountaineering Scotland members and clubs, and contributions from our other public donors and sponsors, we have raised nearly £50,000 in public donations towards the path repairs. This, in addition to the £100,000 Diamond Grant awarded by the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, means we are almost halfway in our campaign to raise the £300,000 required for the An Teallach project.

The team from Cairngorm Wilderness Contracts (pictured above) began work on the An Teallach path at Dundonnell on 29 September, starting at the bottom of the hill and making their way uphill as work progresses.

The contractors are a specialist company dedicated to the design, build and maintenance of upland and mountain footpaths who have worked on many other path projects with OATS including The Fairy Pools and Ben More. Path work often commences in the autumn and throughout the winter, as this is a time when there is less footfall on the mountains, meaning the team are out working in some very harsh weather conditions!

Volunteer parties, organised by OATS, will support the path work and are another great way to get involved in a more practical way. If you’d like to find out more about volunteering with OATS please contact the OATS Activity Project Officer.

Other ways to support It’s Up to Us

We’ll be sharing further updates on progress on the It’s Up to Us website and through the Mountaineering Scotland and OATS social media channels, as well as regular email updates to supporters.

Meet the It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart

It’s time to meet another awesome #ItsUptoUs campaign ambassador, helping us to #SaveMountainPaths in Scotland!

Ian Stewart is the founder of Trail Running Scotland, a Mountaineering Instructor with more than ten years of experience delivering courses, not to mention a former member of the Mountain Safety Team at Mountaineering Scotland! He says:

“I have been fortunate to have spent the last 15 years working and playing in the mountains of Scotland. Originally as a mountaineering instructor this was often about visiting summits and iconic climbing routes, as well as training future leaders on their journeys into the industry.

“More recently this has been as a running guide and coach with my company Trail Running Scotland, where we are working hard towards the vision of a vibrant community of runners; connected through shared values of health, wellbeing, personal performance, and an appreciation of the wild places we choose to play in. We aim to do this by providing the highest quality of skills training and inspirational experiences.

“There is no doubt that the environment in which we run is fundamental to our enjoyment of the sport, both in terms of the things that we see around us, but also the trails under our feet.

“I am conscious of the potential conflict between encouraging and empowering people to participate and explore our wild places with the inevitable impact we then have. That is why I am so happy to support the It’s Up to Us campaign as it builds towards a sustainable model of funding to ensure that we are never involved in a conversation about there being too many people in the hills.”

Find out more, get involved and donate:

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor

Meet our It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Ross Cunningham

We’re excited to introduce another of our amazing It’s Up to Us campaign ambassadors, helping to save upland paths in Scotland. Ross Cunningham is a hillwalker, mental health ambassador and the founder of Mountains Mend Minds.

“I’m Ross, 37, a proud Fifer who has recently moved to the Orkney Islands for work. Hillwalking came into my life in August 2017 when my friend Megan somehow persuaded me to go Munro bagging with her one weekend when I had been struggling with my mental health, which had left me in a very dark place.

“Hillwalking gave me a focus, an activity which made me feel happier, and an environment where I felt comfortable to open up about how I was feeling to others. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s an activity that may have saved my life.

“Last year I ‘compleated’ the Munros and every weekend since August 2017 I’ve been out hiking around Scotland, mostly up hills and mountains, and it brings me a lot of happiness and peace. I feel very grateful to live in such a beautiful country with so many peaks to explore!

“I could not be more supportive of this campaign, which seeks to make our mountains more accessible and to protect the environment for future generations to enjoy. I would encourage anyone reading this to support this fundraiser so that more people can reap the wellbeing benefits of our great outdoors, just like I have been fortunate enough to do.”

To find out more and donate now, visit:

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Meet our It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Lorna (@gurl_on_the_hill)

We’re excited to introduce the next amazing #ItsUptoUs campaign ambassador helping to #SaveMountainPaths in Scotland.

Lorna (better known as @gurl_on_the_hill on Instagram) is a Scottish adventurer and mountain-lover. She says:

“Hi! I’m Lorna and I live in the Highlands of Scotland. I’m a passionate every-day adventurer with a love for the outdoors, mountains, trails, forests, oceans, rivers and lochs.

“My childhood was spent mostly in the outdoors with family camping and hiking weekends, day trips to the hills and local hikes in the forest. From a young age, I always felt a strong connection with the outdoors and the hills and couldn’t wait for the next adventure. I lost that connection in my 20s and early 30s when other priorities in life took over.

“Looking back, I was so busy with the day-to-day pressures I forgot to give myself regular time for an outlet, space to think, reflect, process, and have fun.

“I rediscovered my love for the mountains when my friend asked if I’d like to climb Ben Lomond. I enjoyed every minute. It reignited that passion in me, and I remembered who I really was. I’ve never looked back since. It’s now a big part of my life and I make sure I allow myself time in my busy schedule to do what I love the most. It’s also opened up a door to a wonderful hiking community and I’ve made so many connections and lifelong friends.

“I’m delighted to support the It’s Up to Us campaign and help raise awareness of the importance of maintaining upland paths. It’s so important for the hiking and outdoors community of Scotland to make a difference collectively. It’s up to us to keep our paths maintained so we can continue to enjoy our beautiful mountains together.

“Mountain paths are a fantastic way of looking after our environment, the land and delicate eco systems by minimising our ‘footprint’. Plus, give me a path over a muddy bog any day!”

Find out more, get involved and donate:

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor

Meet the It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Nav Bakhsh

Nav Bakhsh

Each week, we’re introducing you to one of the amazing ambassadors who are helping to #SaveMountainPaths in Scotland by supporting the #ItsUptoUs campaign.

Today, we’re hearing from Nav Bakhsh – a friend of Mountaineering Scotland, and someone we were delighted could join us at the Fort William Mountain Festival back in February.

We asked Nav to tell us a bit more about what he does and why he was excited to get onboard with the It’s Up to Us campaign:

“My name is Nav Bakhsh, I am 46 years old and am Co-Founder of @bootsandbeards (the Glasgow-based organisation who work with diverse communities to build bridges to the outdoors)

“I have been hillwalking for the past six years or so and can honestly it is the most enjoyable activity I look forward to every fortnight. Being born and bred in Scotland, I can say I am proud to be called Scottish, and proud of what Scotland has to offer. It is just beautiful, and I want to play my part in helping keeping it that way for the next generation to enjoy and also to be part off.

© Sandy Young Photography

“When I am walking, I cannot help but think of how small we humans are against some of the jaw dropping mountains we have as a backdrop. These mountains invite many people to come and explore, but over time things do get eroded and need to be looked after. That is why it was an honour to be asked to become an It’s Up To Us ambassador. Not only is this an honour but being also of Pakistani/ Muslim heritage, this is my way of taking time out and giving back to something which is so dear and valuable to me.

To find out more, get involved and donate, visit:

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor

Meet the It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Lucy Hamilton

Lucy Hamilton

It’s time to introduce another of our #ItsUptoUs campaign ambassadors!

This week, we asked photographer Lucy Hamilton – better known as @loosemooose on Instagram – to tell us how she makes the most of time spent in the hills and why she decided to become an ambassador for our new campaign to #savemountainpaths in Scotland:

“I’m Lucy Hamilton, a relatively recent hillwalking enthusiast, although I went up my first Munro (Beinn Sgulaird) aged 29 which was many years ago.

“I started going into the hills in earnest when I realised that I was perfectly capable of doing so on my own, and I didn’t need to wait for people to be available to come with me. It has been a very important revelation!

Lucy Hamilton photographer

“I have definitely got the bug and I feel like it is the easiest way for me, living on the West Coast of Scotland as I do, to have extraordinary experiences. These experiences are enhanced for me because I take my camera up high and document the things I see – I love to share this with anyone who’s interested – there’s always a story involved with a day (or days) in the hills and I hope that it might inspire people to go hillwalking too or at least have a bit of a different perspective on the hills that we see from ground level. For me there are so many aspects to this love of high places, more than I ever dreamed possible.

“More and more I am noticing the paths (or lack of them) leading up to the summits. I suppose in the past I didn’t give them much thought – I was just aware that busier and more popular hills tended to have better paths than the lesser known ones. A good path really can make a big difference to the experience and I am always amazed at the effort that has gone into creating them. It’s always sad to see paths that have become badly eroded as well.

“I didn’t realise, until getting involved with the ‘It’s Up to Us’ campaign from Mountaineering Scotland and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) that mountains on privately owned land don’t get any funding to help with making and maintaining mountain paths, and given that they are very well used (and the number of users is constantly rising) it is so important that money is raised to help with this.

“So many people get so much out of this activity and it’s great to be able to give something back.”

To find out more and donate now, visit:

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor

Meet the It’s Up to Us ambassadors: Markus Stitz

It’s time to introduce another of our #ItsUptoUs campaign ambassadors!

This week, we asked Markus Stitz – author, filmmaker and founder Bikepacking Scotland – to tell us a little about himself, how he makes the most of time spent in the hills and why he supports our new campaign to #savemountainpaths in Scotland:

“My name is Markus Stitz. I wear a number of different heads and like to creatively jump between roles, but my main job is being the director of Bikepacking Scotland and book author. I have recently published two guidebooks – Great British Gravel Rides and Bikepacking Scotland – and have worked across Scotland to develop and promote cycling routes. While my main interest is in cycling, I am also an enthusiastic hillwalker and cross-country skier if the weather allows.

“My time in the hills is spent both for work and leisure. I prefer the solitude the hills offer, but also how much history there is in those landscapes we have on our doorstep in Scotland. A lot of my research for routes and books is done by tracing historic hill tracks and understanding how people moved long before cars and roads were a thing. I love reading old maps, and you will find me most excited if I have managed to retrace those steps on my bike. I am using my gravel bike most times to explore the hills, and I am not afraid to get off and push for a while, but sometimes there are routes I prefer to walk instead.

“I do think that we have great access to the outdoors in Scotland. Unlike in other countries I have travelled to, there aren’t any fees attached to outdoor access in Scotland, and in principle I think that is a great thing. I support the efforts of the It’s Up to Us campaign to raise funds for vital repairs of existing mountain paths to make sure that those routes can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Find out more and donate now!

In partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland

Sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor