Written on 06/12/13 by Paul Oldham

Fell Top Assessors Start Again

Today is the first day of the winter season for the Lake District Weatherline where the two fell top assessors will take it in turns to climb lofty Lake District peak, 950 metre Helvellyn to record weather conditions for walkers and climbers.

Helvellyn Trig point
Helvellyn Trig point

Now nearly 40 years-old, Weatherline - a phone and online service – helps protect nearly 15 million Lake District visitors and locals from conditions that can change rapidly and fatally on the fells.

Mountain men Jason Taylor and Jon Bennett brave driving rain, snow drifts and wind chill temperatures plummeting to minus 16°C to check conditions underfoot and any risks, including avalanches. Working alternate weeks, their daily reports from December until Easter are a lifeline. A seven-day shift is almost equivalent to reaching Everest's summit.

Jason, a former world travel trailblazer in destinations as far-flung as Bhutan and Bangladesh, Iran and India, is in his fifth season. With a second baby due in January, the mountain leader and navigation trainer from Kirkby Thore is expecting a 'hectic winter'.

Ambleside's Jon Bennett, a winter mountaineering and weather buff, has been doing the 'dream job' for seven years and says it's awesome being the eyes and ears of Helvellyn.

Tens of thousands use the sought-after service and when it was threatened with closure two years ago, a raft of sponsors came to the rescue. Money-making ventures include an ebay auction offering a day with the assessors.

Head of Lake District National Park visitor services Adam Thomas said independent funding was vital for Weatherline's future.

He added:

We can't over estimate its value. We have some of the world's most spectacular mountains and keeping those venturing on them as safe as possible is paramount.

For our communities and farmers, it's also a much used and valued service. Assessors' reports are combined with Met Office mountain forecasts to give the fullest possible picture.

We get incredible feedback from grateful users, especially those looking for great days out in breathtakingly beautiful places.

Check out www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk and see the top tips for keeping safe on the fells.

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Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.