Written on 15/12/20 by Paul Oldham

New Visitors to Cumbria remain a Problem

The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association have issued a press release talking about the problems that the rise in inexperienced walkers is causing them.

Wasdale MRT Descent from Styhead to Seathwaite
Wasdale MRT descent from Styhead to Seathwaite

They report that although the overall number of rescues is down on last year, the teams are still having to deal with many rescues that could so easily have been avoided with a bit of forethought and preparation. Many can be attributed to the new visitors that are coming into the county during the pandemic, many from tiers 3 areas which remains a serious concern for the volunteer team members who have to protect themselves during rescues against contracting the virus from potential asymptomatic walkers who have no symptoms. Also for team leaders keeping their teams safe and fully operational, avoiding the scenario where the whole team could be forced into a 14 day self isolation. Not good news for any walkers or climbers needing critical help on the mountains.

Over lockdown and easing since 23rd March the twelve Lake District teams have been called out over 370 times compared to 451 last year. August was an exceptional month with over 107 call outs compared to 71 in 2019. The greatest changes seen this year have been with injuries (typically ankles and wrists) 5% up; lost and missing walkers (normally 25% of incidents) has increased to over 30%.

Truly avoidable call outs, normally down to poor preparation and planning and inadequate equipment and experience remains very high at 30% of all '999' calls.

Langdale & Ambleside MRT
Langdale & Ambleside MRT

They also talk about the use of the What 3 Words app, a new way of reporting your location has seen a massive increase with nearly 90 separate uses compare to just 13 in 2019. We've talked before about our doubts about this app and their experience confirms our fears. They report that in the mountains only 75% of the reports have been accurate. This means that 1 in 4 of the call outs would put your position over 500m out, and in some case even kilometres out. Not helpful when teams are trying to reach you as an injured or lost walker.

That's why we continue to recommend using Ordnance Survey grid reference and, if you've not got a GPS, then getting an app on your phone which gives you easy access to your grid reference (we use GPS Status & Toolbox on our Android phones but that's a bit nerdy and the Ordnance Survey's own OS Locate is probably a better, and free, option for most and is available for both Android and iOS).

Tagged: news, safety, walks


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