The Scottish Government has been criticised for failing to provide funding for the footpath up Britain’s highest mountain.
Ben Nevis attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the Highlands every year and yet there is no direct government funding available to maintain the well-worn track.
The John Muir Trust, which is responsible for the upper reaches of the Ben Nevis path, also pointed out that the area gets more than its fair share of rain.
The call for funding follows the latest in a series of accidents on the Ben path when a walker had to be carried down the hill by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team after she fell and injured her knee while descending the 4,409ft mountain on Sunday.
Team leader John Stevenson said accidents of this type were becoming more common as the condition of the path was deteriorating.
Two years ago, the John Muir Trust raised tens of thousands of pounds to carry out major repair work on the Steall Gorge footpath through Glen Nevis, but it is struggling to find the money to pay for maintenance of the Ben path.
The trust’s footpath manager, Chris Goodman, said: “Ben Nevis is one of Scotland’s great tourist attractions and brings in visitors to the Highlands from across the world – but there is no direct government funding available for the footpath.
“That is something the politicians might want to think about.”
He explained that more than 100,000 pairs of boots pounding a five-mile stretch of footpath every year in an area which has the highest rainfall in the British Isles is bound to take its toll.
Mr Goodman said: “The John Muir Trust organises regular volunteer work parties to carry out vital maintenance, such as removing litter and clearing drains.
“Major repairs, however, can be extremely expensive because these require materials, equipment, transport – including helicopter lifts – and contractors with specialist expertise.”
Helen Todd, campaigns and policy manager for Ramblers Scotland, said the organisation would support funding for the Ben Nevis path, which she described as “a tourist magnet”.
She said: “It seems there is a bottomless pit of money available for funding roads, yet, when it comes to walking and cycling, they say they can’t afford it.
“The Ben Nevis path gets a lot of wear and tear. Any other infrastructure providing this amount of benefit would get funding.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There is potential support for footpaths in rural areas under the next Scotland Rural Development Programme.
“Final decisions are expected to be announced by the Scottish Government later this month.”