I, like many other people, have been known to take photographs of rock towers when I’m out-and-about over the summer months. Whilst I don’t build rock towers (sometimes called stone stacks) myself, I have occasionally photographed one constructed and left by someone else.
Unfortunately, it seems that the hobby of building rock towers (and sharing photographs of them) is not as innocent as it first seems. According to several reports, a huge increase in rock tower building is leading to increased erosion at some of the UK’s best beauty spots, especially in areas near rivers, lakes and along the coast. The removal of stones from these important areas can also result in the loss of habitats for small and rare creatures. Towers have also been known to injure dogs and other animals when they topple.
Many blame Instagram and other social media apps for fueling the huge growth in the popularity of rock tower building. Conservationists are growing increasingly concerned about the damage this is causing. According to the Times, angry residents on the isle of Skye have recently destroyed over 100 stone stacks, and have needed wheelbarrows to return all the rocks to their point of origin. There has also been reports of people taking rocks from stone walls, causing headaches for farmers and landowners. Of course, I think most rock tower builders have no desire to cause damage, and might just not be aware of the problem, hence the reason for this post.
As a photographer and a walker I believe in the “take only memories, leave only footprints” mantra. I’ve therefore decided not to share any more images of rock towers on my social media accounts.