Written on 14/08/23 by Paul Oldham

Being Prepared

We regularly get reports from the various Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams and, in particular, from Wasdale MRT who are one of the busiest and this one caught our eye today for lack of competence of the people being helped:

A call was received from Cumbria Police about a walker reporting that two of his party were stuck somewhere on a ravine on Scafell Pike. He was initially very confused and was not able to accurately describe his route for the day or where they had become stuck.

It became clearer after some time and several police deployments and Team Leader conversations that originally there were four walkers that started out, but after splitting up, one walker was still unaccounted for. The three others were able to be located in two different locations in different valleys. However, the conclusion was that that the missing walker was last seen ascending the Piers Gill path towards the Corridor Route, attempting to get back to Seathwaite in darkness with no means of navigation.

Faced with this information, and the inexperience of the walker, preparations began for a search through the night. The Team Leader alerted Keswick MRT, RAF Leeming MRS, Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs and also the Coastguard helicopter for possible deployment. Just as the decision to call the teams out was about to be made, the news was received with some relief that the walker had made it safely down into Borrowdale. Thanks to all the teams that willingly offered their support.

There's all sorts of things to pick out of this report but in particular we'd highlight the lack of knowledge of the caller as to where he was walking and where they'd got into difficulty, that that party of four had split into three different groups, and that the person who headed for Seathwaite did so in the dark with no means of navigation.

Wasdale MRT don't comment that often on incidents but in this case they said:

There are several things to highlight with this alert:

We can only agree. Walking the high fells of the Lake District is not like a casual low level walk and by following their advice you can keep yourself safe and stop mountain rescue, who are all volunteers doing this in their spare time, having to help get you out of trouble.

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WalkLakes recognises that hill walking, or walking in the mountains, is an activity with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.