"For goodness sake, pick it up!"

I feel like screaming this sometimes when I walk in the Brecon Beacons National Park near my home. I’m referring to the energy drinks bottles and cans that a minority of walkers, mountain bikers and illegal quad bikers and scramblers use for fuel then blithely chuck into the hedges or simply leave on the woodland paths. Every walk I pick up a backpack full of other peoples’ non-degradable rubbish.

It’s madness. People come to a beautiful place, have a lovely time, then despoil it by leaving their litter behind. It reminds me of the time I lived by a canal in the East End of London. Parents with their kids would bring bags of bread to feed the ducks and they all seemed to enjoy the experience. But when the bread was all gone, they would throw the plastic bag into the canal, too.

There is no excuse with these cans and bottles. If anything, it’s easier to take the rubbish home – it’s lighter because it’s empty.

Worse still is the flytipping. Pictured above is a little layby near the entrance to a Forestry Commission site on the Blorenge Mountain. These bricks and bags weren’t here last week. Even more frustratingly, there is a municipal tip just 10 minutes drive from this layby.

Flytipping is a massive problem nationwide. Recently, the Woodland Trust revealed that it had spend £500,000 clearing litter from the woods it manages, including £90,000 on flytipping. That half a million pounds could have been put to good conservation use – but for the thoughtlessness of others.

Still, I saw an opportunity – those bricks might make new steps or the foundations for a new garden shed. I walked home, got the car and drove there to load up as many as I could. Killing two birds with one stone, I thought – getting some useful raw materials and helping clear up some fly-tipping.

That is until someone stopped and accused me of doing the tipping. It took a bit of explaining – and I’m not sure I totally convinced him… If that was you, I was trying to clear them up – honest!

The Woodland Trust's top 10 fly-tipped items:


Fitted kitchens
car tyres
burnt out cars
horse manure
animal carcasses
chemical waste


Fergus CollinsEditor, BBC Countryfile Magazine