4. What to do when you're lost

Find out where you are. This can be determined by two methods.

Method One - Ask somebody.

To save embarrassment the question "Which way did you come up?" can be posed to any passing walker who looks like they might know where they are. The main clue to this is the possession of a beard, a flat cap and a pipe.

Positive signs also include anybody with wellies, two or three collie dogs and a whistle - often seen frightening large flocks of sheep. These types can be quite surly at times, though - so please approach with caution!

Contra-indications include anyone wearing a full set of colour co-ordinated gear or equipment that looks brand spanking new; anyone clutching a plastic carrier bag with a supermarket logo written on it; anybody under the age of 60; or anyone with their jeans tucked into socks, combined (combined, mind you), with a rucksac with the word "Head" written on it (where do they keep their feet?).

Anyway, the answer to this question can usually elicit sufficient information to effect a safe escape from the particular hill you're having problems with, especially when combined with hand-signals and positive body language.

Method Two - Carry Gizmos

You could carry enough electronic equipment to warm up a small piece of pepperoni pizza. - i.e. GPS, mobile phone and small generator, with enough fuel for three days constant running and a lightweight micro-wave oven. (This does not always work - see 3. Rely on Gizmos so you can keep talking)

As described in episode 15 of Deepspace 9 "Where the hell are we Captain Sisko?", this equipment can be engineered in such a way as to propel the missing person towards the trans-mogryfying receiving portal which should be erected in the car park just before you set off.

Failing that, you could ring somebody, describe the scenery and see if they can work out where you are.

NOTE - DO NOT RING THE MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAM. WHEN THEY DISCOVER YOU HAIL AND HEARTY AND HAVE MERELY STRAYED FROM YOUR INTENDED ROUTE - THEY WILL BE VERY VERY VERY ANNOYED - THIS IS IMPORTANT!!

Camp Out

If Methods One and Two fail - be prepared to camp out.

Given that a warm, wet, westerly airflow is the norm in the British Isles, it may be sometime before the mist clears. i.e. several days or weeks.

The following equipment should, therefore be carried for successful excecution of this strategy:

Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, head torch with 4 spare bulbs and 8 spare batteries, gas stove with 2 or 3 full fuel canisters, packet of bacon (unsmoked), twelve bread rolls, jam (flavour optional) 15 tea bags, half a pound of New Zealand butter, coffee, instant chocolate and soup, instant mashed potato, one 8oz steak, garlic, pepper, oxo cubes, one instant spotted dick and custard, 8oz wensleydale cheese, some Hovis biscuits, a small bottle of port, a plastic cycling bottle with half a litre of Glenmorangie, four cans of McEwans Export, laptop computer with internet access via your mobile phone, 1 box of matches.

I might add that a tin of Pal and some Winalot wouldn't go amiss as well.

The key to this strategy is not to actively seek salvation. Indeed, many sunny days may pass before you decide to vacate your cosy den.

Try to fend off any rescue attempts by regularly moving your tent - try hiding it in a sheepfold, or even the back garden of the Clova Inn, which Denis seems to think is an effective strategy.

If approached, pretend to be somebody else and don't forget to bark enthusiastically and wave cheerfully at any yellow helicopters that may turn up unexpectedly.


© Mike Knipe. Mike Knipe is an experienced outdoor enthusiast, walk leader and writer who has worked with Durham County Council and English Nature (aka Natural England).

Other articles by Mike Knipe on go4awalk.com include: The Mike Knipe Column, The Art of Getting Lost . . . , How to start Peak Bagging . . . , How to sound like a walking expert . . . (writing as Gnasher the Dog) and Is That A Mitt In Your Pocket - Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?




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