Sign celebrating couple's engagement to be removed from Mournes
IT may just seem like a romantic gesture to some, but for others a sign celebrating a couple's engagement in the Mournes is the start of a slippery slope.
The Mourne Heritage Trust has urged people visiting the stunning mountains in Co Down not to leave a permanent reminder of their trip.
A heart-shaped sign intersected with a Cupid's arrow was recently installed on the Brandy Pad, beneath the Castles on the south-western slopes of Slieve Comedagh.
It reads: "Jay + Lisa, she said yes here on 4.3.17."
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Martin Carey, chief executive of the Mourne Heritage Trust, said while those involved were well-intentioned, some Mournes enthusiasts have expressed dismay at a proliferation of signs and memorials.
"Feedback that we have received from some mountain users would be that it does impact on their experience," he said.
"The Mournes are considered a place apart and where people go to get away from it all.
"In this specific case, we did engage with Northern Ireland Water and they have agreed that we should remove it."
He added: "We will put it in safekeeping here and then put out an appeal via social media for the owners to retrieve it."
Although there is no formal policy in place regarding mementos left behind by visitors, discussions are ongoing to develop a plan.
Mr Carey said: "We appreciate it is a delicate enough issue, particularly when some of the memorials are for people who have died, and that has to be borne in mind.
"However, there is a concern about it. A number of agencies, including the National Trust and Northern Ireland Water, as well as private landowners, would be involved and we have been discussing plans with them to draw up a policy."
He added: "Technically, anyone putting a waymarker post in should have planning permission and permission from the landowner."
Mr Carey has urged visitors to the Mournes to take photos and enjoy their trip but appealed to people to "not leave a permanent mark" on the landscape.
"We would ask people to consider other locations for signs and memorials because it is something that does not have the blessing of the landowner, comes into conflict with planning permission and does impact upon the experience of other users."
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