Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams : plea to walkers
Mountain rescue teams in the Lake District have made a video to highlight the challenges they face in dealing with a huge increase in call-outs.
Richard Warren is chairman of the group that represents the mountain rescue teams (MRTs) in the Lake District. In this short video, he explains how and why the MRTs are now under such pressure.
The number of call-outs has doubled in the last five years or so. So the MRTs - who are all volunteers relying solely on fund-raising and donations - are having to deal with a quite unprecedented increase in demand. The pressure on the individuals in the teams is now so great that many are now leaving the service because the commitment required is now just too great.
This is surely a very worrying situation and is particularly ironic as 2008 sees the 75th anniversary of mountain rescue in Great Britain.
In order to reduce the call-outs to more manageable levels, the MRTs have embarked on an education campaign to try and cut down the number of avoidable incidents. They are urging walkers to take a few simple steps before setting out for days in the high mountains:
- Plan your route so the length, ascent and terrain are within your (and your companions') skills and capabilities.
- Prepare properly making sure you have plenty of food and water, some extra emergency food/clothing, whistle, torch and mobile 'phone in case you are forced to be out longer than you anticipated or you need to summon help.
- Check the weather bearing in mind that conditions on the tops can be very different to those in the valleys.
- Make sure you start out early enough in the day to complete the route (with stops) and get back before nightfall.
If you are not sure about any of this - check out our Hill Skills channel for more detailed information on What to Wear, What to Take, your Well Being in the hills including Planning your Walk, Navigation Skills and Dealing with Emergencies.
For a great selection of pre-planned routes all over the Lake District including length, ascent, estimated time for completion and our exclusive 9 point grading system see:
. . . and for the days when you get up late, or the weather closes in and the tops are shrouded in mist - see our selection of The Best Walks to do in The Lake District when it is raining.
Incidentally, the opening shot of the above video 'flies' over Beacon in the Blawith Fells with Coniston Water beyond. To walk Beacon (Blawith Fells) see Walks on Beacon (Blawith Fells)
The shot at 2 mins 17 secs features Wast Water with Yewbarrow (left), Kirk Fell (centre left), Great Gable (centre), Lingmell (right) and Illgill Head (far right) and the top of Sca Fell (above Illgill Head far right). Scafell Pike itself is hidden behind Sca Fell. To see walks from Wast Water and Wasdale Head see Walks from Wasdale Head
The shot at 2:56 features Skiddaw from the North before panning right to Bassenthwaite. To walk Skiddaw see Walks on Skiddaw
The shot at 4:15 features King's How with Derwent Water beyond. To walk on King's How see Walks on King's How
We're not quite sure where the final shot (at 6:08) of the Land Rover going up the valley is but it looks infuriatingly familiar. If you recognise it perhaps you could let us know using the links below.
Finally, quite why Mr Warren feels a GPS "will let you down eventually" is a little perplexing. When used in conjunction with a suitable map and compass a GPS is an excellent navigational aid that can help pin-point you current location. And knowing your current location is crucial if you wish to make an informed choice about your next course of action. Just make sure you carry some spare batteries.
For more information about GPS see GPS The Myths and Truths Parts 1 and 2
For walking routes with downloadable/uploadable GPS Waypoints see Walks with GPS Waypoints
For more information about navigating with map and compass see Hill Skills > Navigation Skills for Walkers and Hikers
“If you are going to take any device requiring batteries into the hills (GPS, Head Torch, Digital Camera, Who knows what else) why not carry a couple of spare ones - just in case. If you do not have the wit to take some spare batteries well, then it is not the equipment that is letting you down is it!!”
John Doe, Lancaster
“Couldn't agree with you more. Mr Warren's comment about a GPS 'letting you down - eventually' is terribly old school. If your map gets wet or blows away in the wind (Great Gable 1997) then it will 'let you down'. If the length of string round your neck holding your compass breaks (Fairfield 2008) then it will 'let you down'. (I used may GPS to navigate my way back - lucky I had it with me!). Surely taking a map, compass AND gps with you is just going properly equipped isn't it?”
Chris Steele, Kendal
“I am surprised that the Mountain Rescue Team does not suggest carrying a survival bag. I bought one for bush-walking in Australia but have continued to carry it in the UK, especially since I often walk on my own. I've never needed it, but if I did, for myself or someone else, it could be crucial.”
Judith Wardle, Witney, Oxon
“Surely a GPS will eventually let you down when the battery goes flat? Suggesting that you should always have a backup, that you know how to use. ie. map”
Dan Sweet, Cotswolds
“In response to your appeal for the possible location of the landrover in the final clip at 6.08, I think it might be on the A593 heading away from Coniston and the fell the shot focuses in on looks like Little Arrow Moor. Approx grid reference of vehicle I would say is SD301971 just after passing Catbank on your left. I walked past Little Arrow Moor from the Walna Scar Rd car park, when I ascended The Old Man of Coniston in March this year and we nearly walked up this moor due to confusing waymarker signs on the ground. Anyway, I hope my suggestion helps and I would be interested to know when you actually establish the location, whether I was right or not. Your website is a great and valuable source of walking and safety with walking information. Keep up the excellent work. Best Wishes Gary Dyson”
Gary Dyson, Altrincham, Cheshire
The views expressed by contributors to this discussion are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.