Walkers in one of Britain’s most popular national parks are under siege from a suspected “phantom post snatcher” after several vital guideposts have mysteriously disappeared.
The much-needed markers are used by hikers along the Snowdonia Slate Trail (SST), an 83-mile-long circular trek enjoyed by many ramblers in the park.
When weather conditions are poor the sturdy wooden posts guide travellers through foggy conditions and help them keep to the path.
But in recent weeks a number of posts have gone missing according to reports from walkers.
As no posts have been recovered, some suspect theft, and others an “organised act of sabotage” from a “phantom post snatcher”.
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On August 12 on the Snowdonia Slate Trail Facebook page the organisation shared a report from a walker under the headline “The phantom post snatcher strikes again”.
It continued with “a message received from a local resident” that read: “It appears that the recently reinstalled marker post just above Llyn Owain Ddol on the section between Mynydd llandegai and the Marchlyn gate has been removed/stolen again unfortunately.
“I had a quick look around the little pond where it should be located and couldn’t see any trace of it. I didn’t walk up any further so am not aware if the other ones near the pump house and river crossing are still there. The missing one was definitely there last weekend.”
Aled Owen, an SST trustee, said at least three of the five waymarkers are missing on the wild Gwaun Gynfi moors between Mynydd Llandegai and Deiniolen.
While occasional vandalism occurs, some walkers collect waymarker roundels, the wholesale theft of marker posts is unprecedented.
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Mr Owen previously told NorthWalesLive: “We will have to replace them, on this section, the path is fairly indistinct and when the mist descends, it can be hard to follow the trail.”
“It’s weird they have disappeared altogether, and not just discarded nearby. These posts are heavy and to remove them off the moor you’d probably need a quad bike.
“It is very inconvenient for us, replacing the posts is not straightforward as the equipment will have to be carried up to the moors.”
Opened in 2017, the Slate Trail starts at Port Penrhyn, just outside Bangor, and heads towards the mountains of Eryri.
It takes walkers through hidden gorges past restored railways to a lost world of abandoned quarries. Invariably the scenery is stunning.
World Heritage status for the region’s slate landscapes has given extra impetus to an off-the-beaten-trail route that shows close-up what the fuss is all about. Divided into 13 sections, it typically takes a week to complete.
Each marker post is topped with yellow plastic to aid visibility.
One walker said on Facebook: “They are going one by one, one just over the stream was still there a couple of days ago. Very mysterious!”
Another suggested the cost-of-living crisis might have something to do with it. “If it was good quality wood probably been re-purposed, hard times = theft, unfortunately.”
The Slate Trail has updated its Facebook page to give advice to hikers looking to navigate this section of the route. With greater awareness, organisers hope the phantom post snatcher will disappear back into the mist.
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